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The Dummy - ditch or keep?

A must-have for soothing or now an established sleep prop, either way you may have come to the decision to teach your little one how to replace the dummy themselves or you want to get rid of it completely.


Using a dummy is a non-nutritive way of calming a baby by lowering their heart rate, blood pressure and stress levels. It can also reduce the likelihood of excess wind, reduces the risk of SIDS and can help to soothe unsettled babies to sleep. However, there comes a time when you might be sick of replacing the dummy or feel that they are too dependant on it and you want to support them to self soothe without one.


So when is a good time to remove the dummy and how can you do this?


Babies can’t usually physically replace a dummy themselves until closer to 8m old. So that means you need to replace if for them; during naps if they wake between sleep cycles looking for the dummy and for overnight wakes when they aren’t due a feed.


Getting rid of the dummy cold turkey is the quickest and most effective way to do so. Keeping the dummy for overnight sleep but not naps or vice versa is too confusing for your baby. I suggest ditching the dummy cold turkey when you start to support your little one to self settle (usually between 4-6m old) and when they can suck their hands/fingers to replace the dummy. If you decide to keep the dummy beyond 8m old when they have mastered the art of replacing it themselves then be prepared to keep it until they are 2-3 years old and can understand parting ways with their beloved sleep association.

"Using a dummy is a non-nutritive way of calming a baby by lowering their heart rate, blood pressure and stress levels".

Teaching your baby how to find and replace


If the dummy works for you and you are happy to continue providing one for your baby then I recommend teaching them how to find and replace it themselves, something they can usually achieve around 7-8m of age.


Teaching your baby how to find and replace the dummy themselves will mean that you aren’t required to do so when they wake during a nap or overnight. Practise during the day by doing the below steps;

  1. Start with handing the dummy to your baby and guiding their hand to their mouth, replacing the dummy

  2. Then try handing the dummy to baby and see if they can guide it to their mouth themselves

  3. Pat the ground/mattress where the dummy is so they know where to look for it. Let them pick the dummy up and replace it themselves.

I suggest having 3-5 dummies in the cot to give your baby a better opportunity to find and replace it themselves.


If you need any additional information or support please feel free to contact me at amy@littledreamers.co.nz to book in a FREE 15 minute phone consultation to talk about what is happening for your baby and how we help.

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