The ‘Dummies and Sleep’ Conundrum.

This is a judgement-free zone for dummies! I always say to my clients, ‘if it works, it works’, and we know that dummies have lots of benefits for young babies, including potentially reducing the risk of SIDS. I would have given my own children dummies had they not point-blank refused one. 

Nevertheless, dummies can also be a major disruptor of a little one’s sleep. I’ve worked with many clients who are doing ‘the dummy run’ several times a night, as the dummy has fallen out of their baby’s mouth and the little one is unable (or unwilling) to put themselves back to sleep again without it. This causes disturbed and broken sleep for both the parents and little ones alike. 

These parents know they need to do something about their current dummy situation, but don’t know how to go about making a change. This blog aims to shed light on when it’s time to get rid of the dummy, and provide tips on how to do it. 

In short – when it no longer serves the function of helping your little one get solid, restful sleep. 

The benefits of a dummy for young babies are not so effective once they reach six to twelve months and the SIDS risks subside. If the dummy then becomes a hinderance to sleep, it’s time to ditch it. The hinderance could be to sleep, their speech, or even their eating habits. 

If a dummy is more of a disturbance than a help in the night and/or day, then I would advise you to get rid of it. 

There are three options:

1. The Cold Turkey Method: 

This is the main method I recommend to all of my clients who have an issue with the dummy.

Here, you take the dummy away completely (during the day and night) and use a different settling method, consistently, if your little one is unsettled. Babies are super adaptable and tend to forget about their dummy very quickly (and in my experience, sometimes overnight). Even those who are really attached to their dummy can forget about its existence within a few days/nights. For little ones over 1 year, you can try introducing a comforter in place of the dummy before removing it all together. 

I always recommend throwing out the dummies so there’s no temptation to re-introduce it in the middle of the night. This helps you be 100% consistent with your response. 

For older babies/toddlers who have an understanding of what is happening, you can explain why and where the dummy has to go. You can be as creative as you like – for example, telling the story of the ‘Dummy Fairy’ who collects the dummies from children who have outgrown them. Just remember to keep the conversation positive!

2. The No-Replace Method:

Here you keep the dummy for the initial settling-to-sleep (whether that’s at bedtime or nap time), but once the dummy has fallen out and your little one is crying, then you use a different settling method to help get them back to sleep. By using a settling method instead of the dummy, we can help the little one learn to settle themselves back to sleep independently. With this method, you can also keep the dummy during the day for comfort.

3. The Wait & See Method:

The third option is to wait it out and hope your little one will be able to put their own dummy back in soon. If your little one is nearing 8 months, this may not be a long wait. You can help them learn this skill by putting it into their hand and guiding it back into their mouth each time it falls out. You could then put a few dummies into the cot at night to increase the chances of them finding one to pop back in. Glow in the dark dummies are also very useful for this. 

What if I need more support in removing the dummy and improving my little one’s independent sleep skills?

Then get in touch and book your free Discovery Call with me today. I’d love to help!