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Five ways to help your toddler ditch the dummy

Five ways to help your toddler ditch the dummy

If you're struggling to move through the dummy stage, our toddler expert has all the advice you need

Dummies can be a godsend for babies who struggle to settle down to sleep. However, they're not a forever solution, and the time will come when you will want your child to give up their dummy. But are you prepared to give it up too?

What many parents don't want to admit is that they can find it harder to give up the dummy than the child. As parents of dummy users (yes, both my children used them), it's easy to become reliant on them to soothe a crier. Just pop the dummy in, job done!

When you decide it's time to ditch the dummy, make sure you're mentally prepared to say no to a pleading, crying child and find other alternatives, at least for a few days.

One technique that can work is to appeal to their sense of maturity. Many toddlers love to be the big boy or girl rather than the little baby, and will understand the logic of dummies being for babies only.

Or there's always old-fashioned bribery, which is the route we took. It's an established motivational technique to make change more appealing than staying the same. So if your child is after a particular toy or treat, you could make this a swap for the dummy.

Whatever you choose, when it's time for your child to give up the dummy, bear these tips in mind:

• Start by restricting dummies to sleep time only. Keep all soothers in the cot, and don't carry any around with you.

• Choose a time when things are calm at home. It's not a good idea to take away a comfort object if your child is anxious and out of their regular routine.

• Plan a few extra active days so your child will fall asleep more easily without their dummy.

• Once you've ditched it, don't go back. As your child learns to self-settle, there may be a few more broken nights. It's temporarily tough, but you'll get there in the end.

• Let the dummy fairy take care of it! The dummy fairy is a very kind cousin of the tooth fairy, who leaves small gifts for children who give up their dummies. The gift might be something that will become a new comfort object, such as a soft toy or doll. Mum-of-two Gemma Metcalfe-Beckers, who blogs at Sugar & Rhubarb, found that the dummy fairy made life 'surprisingly easy'. Daughter Lena the best moment for me was when she had torn all of the wrapping off her new bunny and ran straight to 'was asleep within 10 minutes, without a fight, keen for morning to come so that she could play with her new toy. In the morning, the window to shout thank you to the fairies. That was over two weeks ago now. Every bedtime has been serene since – in terms of the dummy, that is.'

By Joanne Mallon, author of Toddlers: An Instruction Manual

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