How we ditched the dummies

My daughter Robyn was two in August, and up until a few weeks ago was as hooked on dummies as any child could be. From only weeks old she had always slept and napped with one, had several that she would suck on throughout the day, and always had multiple dummies in the car, regardless of whether she was going to nap or not.

She has a gap between her front teeth because of her dummies (the dentist assures me this won’t affect her adult teeth), and her default ‘I’m relaxing’ state would always feature one. Or two, or three.

Toddler with gappy teeth

Look at those teeth.

She had a routine check with a health visitor the other week, and I admitted that the next thing we needed to change was her dummy use; we have been incredibly lazy over it. Why? Because it makes life easier. And also her dummies, or ‘dohs’ as she called them, had become a part of her identity somehow. But I knew she needed to break the habit, and vocalising it cemented this in my mind: I had to do it, for Robyn.

First, I took them out of sight during the day. I also gave her a ‘special’ muslin with bumblebees on it, which she immediately took to (her big brother has a ‘muz’), though she wouldn’t take it to bed at first.

Dummy-reduced days were remarkably successful; if her dohs weren’t scattered about the place and she was happy, she didn’t ask for them. I was amazed. She still had them in the car and at bedtime (she’s dropped her nap), but I kept them away, without any announcements, during the day.

Then, she got a cold and her mouth was sore where she was sucking her dummies at night and dribbling. This has happened before, but now I had taken the first step in the daytime and decided to bite the bullet… it was time for her to sleep without them.

In advance of bedtime I bought her new pyjamas and a George Pig pillow – her first pillow in fact. I told her before bed that the nurse had said she mustn’t have her dummies tonight because her mouth was sore. (A white lie about the nurse.) She immediately cried, so I quickly followed it up with the new pyjamas, then followed that up with the new pillow.

I then told her she could take her bumblebee muz to bed, just like her brother does, and she actually wanted to. It was like an immediate new era.

Toddler sleeping with dummy

Thank you and goodbye, dummies.

She was so excited, she took ages to settle – but she didn’t ask for her dummies! It felt like a miracle, the novelty of her new things actually saw her through. She did ask in the morning, and was tearful for less than a minute when we reminded her that her mouth was too sore.

Over the following days, I found the main trigger was actually the car: she would want her dummies right away and cry. So for a week, we stayed in and only did very short, essential journeys. I found that reasoning with her when she asked for her dummies and got upset – which she did, but never in an unmanageable way – didn’t work, only distraction helped her. We played, went for walks, kept busy… and she was okay!

By around day five, she and I were able to have conversations about how big girls don’t have dummies, only babies do, and that she was a big girl now. We haven’t looked back. When she gets upset now she asks for her muz, sleeps with it every night and takes it everywhere with her, which we are completely comfortable with.

I’d say she was totally over her dummies within a week, and had adapted almost completely within a few days. Avoiding the car made it easier on her, as did loads of distraction rather than trying to deliberate with her.

If Robyn can ditch the dummies, any little one can; she was totally hooked on hers.

How did you get your child to ditch their dummy? Share your story below.

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