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Dummies - Using & Weaning 4-18 Months

Dummies - Using & Weaning 4-18 Months

If you are reading this article, it's likely your baby has been using a dummy for a few months. Perhaps you are wondering if dummy use is OK. Or perhaps your baby is waking many times a night for their dummy and you are wondering where to from here!!!

At The Sleep Store, we support parents decision to use a dummy. We used them with our 4 boys when they were little. They all had their dummies until they were toddlers, and we think that was OK for our family.

But everyone is different and you need to decide what is OK for your baby now as they move into being an older baby rather than a newborn.

So really the decision is whether the dummy is helpful for your baby and you want to keep using it, or are you ready to get rid of it?

...the decision is whether the dummy is helpful for your baby and you want to keep using it, or are you ready to get rid of it?

Can a baby sleep through with a dummy?

Yes! We found dummies to be an excellent self-settling tool, enabling our babies to resettle them self and sleep through.

This is generally possible from about 5 months old, once your baby can locate and put the dummy back in for themselves. However, you do need to decide to stop putting the dummy in yourself!

How can I teach my baby to use the dummy for self-settling?

If you decide you want to continue with using a dummy, but don't want to be up half the night putting it back in, then teaching baby to use it themselves is the key.

Babies are generally coordinated enough to do this from about 5 months old.

We recommend the following steps:

  1. Let your baby have the dummy during the day so they can work out how to hold their dummy, turn it round and learn to put it back in.

  2. Have a gentle nightlight, so they can see the dummy during the night.

  3. Or use glow in the dark dummies. The NUK Signature Silicone Night Soother ones are the best ones we have tested and BIBS Night Glow also get great reviews.

  4. Use a Breathable Baby mesh cot liner to keep the dummies in the cot!

  5. Put several dummies in the cot, sprinkled around baby's head, so there is a better chance of finding a dummy.

  6. Decide to stop putting the dummy back in your baby's mouth. Start by putting it in their hand, and helping them put it in their mouth. Then let them find the dummy and put it back in for themselves.

General tips when weaning the dummy

  • Many babies still love to suck at this age and it can make getting your baby to sleep much easier.

  • The sucking to sleep habit/sleep association starts to form at about 4-5 months, so wean off the dummy before then if you want to get rid of it.

  • Your baby can continue to use a dummy and sleep through the night, but this means she needs to learn to put it back in herself.

  • If you keep putting a dummy back in during the night, you reinforce to your baby that she needs you to put it in (and that she needs it to fall back to sleep).

  • We suggest you let your baby try to self-settle without the dummy before you go in during the night. How long you leave her depends on her age, but we suggest 2-5 minutes to start with for a 4-month-old baby is a good idea. (Watch your clock, 2 minutes of crying will feel like 60 minutes!!).

  • You can use a dummy while your baby is swaddled, which is a very effective combination. Over time change to wrapping with one arm out, so baby can either suck fingers or put the dummy in himself.

So the dummy is going, what next?

If you have decided to take your baby's dummy away, you are basically deciding to teach your baby to self-settle. There are lots of different ways to do this, from a very gradual and gentle approach to accepting that your baby will cry as they learn to self-settle.

Babies generally adapt to no dummy in just a few days and it is almost always easier than parents expect. Often it's the parents who have come to rely on the ease of settling with a dummy and are terrified about how hard it will be to settle without it.

It can work well to introduce some new sleep associations before you take away the dummy, so the transition is easier. If your baby is over 7 months of age, introducing a Cuski Comforter is one such association that can make a big difference.

And all those night wakings where you need to pop the dummy back in? Once your baby no longer needs the dummy to settle at bedtime, they will be MUCH more likely to be able to settle themselves the 4-6 times a night that babies generally wake.

Here are some links to teaching your baby to self-settle:

Gently encourage your baby to self settle - just the gentle approaches

Teaching your baby to self settle - a range of techniques including cold turkey (the verbal reassurance technique is one option).


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More ideas on how to wean the dummy at different ages:

Here are some ideas from our Facebook Community for what worked for their baby


We had great success when our boy turned 2. He had 5 dummies. I snipped the tip off one. He immediately noticed & looked at me for an explanation. "Broken". So he put it in the bin. We continued with dummies for another couple of weeks, then we fully committed & snipped the tips off every dummy. When he asked for one, we gave him a broken one. Same thing each time; told him it was broken, he put it in the bin. Every time he asked for it, we reminded him that it was broken & he remembered it had gone in the rubbish. We had thought it was key to him going to sleep so we expected some rough nights. We had a bit of crying over a few days, but then that was it. Best thing was that his speech improved by leaps & bounds ... & I reckon he whines SO much less without it.

One of my twins did this and she was only supposed to have it for nap time and bedtime but she ended up finding dummies all around the place as we lost track of where they were. Lots of screaming for "dummy!". She's nearly 3 and we got her off her dummy over Christmas cold turkey but we were lucky she had discovered her thumb 2 months before Xmas as she became desperate to suck something when we wouldn't hand her the dummy. Highly recommend a Cuski its helped the transition. good luck!


I've also heard of others who used the Dummy Fairy (to take the dummy to another child who needs it), burying it in the garden/flushing it or the like.


My Son was three - we had a big chat about it, took him to the warehouse and said he could choose a gift in replacement to take to bed instead of dummy (under $10). He chooses, we went home, took all his dummies and he threw them in the bin, and we talked again about toy just brought - he had a cry 2min at bedtime but i just reminded him where they were, and now he had a new toy. it was more upset the next night but got a toy and explained again - not an issue now at all.


On Christmas Eve, just before my son turned three we put his dummies out on the fireplace and the next morning they had been replaced by some chocolate teddies and of course, all of his presents from Santa. We sat in with him until he settled the first night but after that, he did really well on his own. Best of luck!


When I was nannying miss three and I (plus parents when I wasn't there) talked about the dummy fairies that collected them for the new babies. Together we tied the dummies in a tree and overnight the Fairies collected them sprinkled their special fairy dust (glitter) and left a special big girl present. At the time it was sunglasses from $2 shop she wanted!


We cut the tips off them when she turned 2 and that made her not like them anymore but it also made her stop having a daytime nap- so bought more after 3 days of no naps!! She still has it when she sleeps (she's turning 3 in May) and she has a 2hour nap every day- we figured she knows it's only for sleep time or long car/plane trips and when she feels ready then she will stop using it.


First son at five months and second son at seven months and I used my own version of pick up put down method, but it may have helped that dummy use was only ever used for sleep/settling at bedtime. I exchanged the dummy for a lullaby and extra cuddles and then just repetition of quick cuddle and back down if they cried because I don't do cry it out. It was exhausting but worth it! Consistency is key.


We started at 12 months where she could only have the dummy for sleep time. When she woke up we would give her a while to it so that she could fully wake up and then when she tried to speak to us we would just say that we couldn't understand her with the dummy in her mouth. She'd take it out and get distracted by something so I would put it away (out of sight, out of mind). Or I'd wait until her breakfast was ready and then I'd take it away. If she asked for it we'd just say that it was for bed time. When she was about 18 months (might have been older, can't remember dates) we started 'forgetting' to give it to her at bedtime. If she asked for it we'd give it but otherwise, we didn't mention it at all and it was always hidden completely out of her sight (and she never saw where it was hidden). After a few nights, she stopped asking for it. Threw them away when she was a little over 24 months. She'll ask for one every now and then but I just say that they're gone and they're for little babies. No tears, no fuss.


Toddler standing without dummy in a Woolbabe PJ Suit - Moss Wilderness

Cold turkey. Took a day at 18 mths. Recommend doing it when they aren't sick as we had to give it back a few times before 18 mths just for the comforting factor when she wasn't well.


We did it at age 1, cold turkey but started with day sleep first then a few days later night.


Cold turkey. A couple of miserable days and then it was fine. In the end, I think I was more attached to it than he was.


In hindsight, I would never have given my baby a dummy. Since I was little, I had dolls with dummy's and always wanted a baby that I could give a dummy too. So when my son was born and the nurse walked into my room, she said Why has he got a dummy? He's the quietest baby on the ward! I said Because he's a baby! She is an older midwife, so I wasn't offended by her "old-school" remark of Its a rod for your own back, you've made. How right she was! Eight weeks in and my son's dummy was falling out of his mouth during the night, causing him to wake up, cry out, and for me to get up and down all night long putting the wretched thing back in his mouth. We were both sleep deprived. As he got older, of course, he worked out how to find it and put it back in. With that little bit of convenience, came the realisation that he was depending on it, in bed and out of bed. It was misery when he was unwell with a stuffy nose trying to breathe and suck his dummy at the same time. So what I did, at age 3, was let him take it to bed at night only, then gradually weened him off by putting him to bed and reading to him, talking to him and keeping his mind off of it. I'd rub his back and sing to him or whatever and he'd drift off. Then eventually, he didn't reference bed with the dummy and he sleeps peacefully with out it. In the bin, they went while he was sleeping. Sometimes he asks for it, and I say Santa picked them up on Christmas Day and took them for other children, and then I change the subject. It's all trial and error and none of us wonderful mummy's gives birth to babies with an instruction book. Each baby is different. Persistence is the key xx good luck to all xo


My 3rd child was nearly 3 1/2 and it took my dad to get rid of it for us she was playing us big time lol I say good luck to anyone trying to get rid of them!


We got rid of it at 8mths cold turkey. Was one night of taking a while to settle then fine after that.


We used verbal reassurance, she had it just in bed and in the car if she was cranky.


Ours just threw it away himself when decided he didn't need it..... was about 12 months old.......


Cold turkey. Took two days if I remember right. I just threw them out and dealt with it.


When our boy turned 1 it was only for bed. A month or so after that we lost it and couldn't find it one night so had to go cold turkey, he was fine. Will do the same with #2.


Just take it away, the older they get the longer the performance. 3/4 nights tops.


Cold turkey for my boy at 4months but my 2-year-old girl will not give it up!!! She gets beside herself if I take it.


Cut the tip off one and gave it to her so she could see it was broken and threw all the others out. Bit of crying at nap time and bedtime for 2 days then absolutely fine.


5 months. verbal reassurance for my twins. one was one nap, the other about 2-3 days.


Cold turkey just after she turned one. But we were very strict in that it was only for bedtime and the car right from the get go.


Cold turkey at 9 months. Began at the start of the Easter long weekend, and he could self-settle by the end of the weekend.


The baby was a week before his 1st birthday and I just took it away cold turkey.


Basically cold turkey at around 15mths. Put them in a box to give the Easter Bunny to give to the babies (because it was Easter at the time but would have done Santa or Man in the Moon or something) in return he got some chocolates a toy car and a book. Asked for them once at bedtime (since that was the only time he got them from about 3-4 months old) and then never again. He no longer needed them to sleep with as he had gone to sleep without for a few nights before hand so figured we just got the timing right. We also conditioned for about a week before - telling him that he needed to put all his dummies in a box to give to the Easter bunny and that he might get a present in return because he was a big boy now.


Cut the tip off. It means they can't hold the bulb bit to the roof of their mouth. Do it to all of the dummies. Did it with my son... he said "Broken" and didn't want it after that.


We only ever use at bedtime I had so much trouble getting my boy to sleep I tried one that someone brought me I never thought I would use one. I'm thinking of ditching it just putting if off....I read you can wean off one sleep at a time starting with the least important one first.


Just went in every few minutes, laid them back down with their teddy, said shhh, and out. Cried a fair bit night 1 but so much better by night 2.


Dumped dummies a month ago for 10-month-old twins. Four nights later, forgotten.


My 2-year-old had 2 dummies left, she dropped one in the toilet by accident and I threw it in the bin, then the 2nd one she threw in on purpose so I didn't buy anymore and told her that dummies were dirty and had poo on them! It was pretty easy after that. The only problem is she has trouble settling and nothing relaxes her now.


We went on a holiday only took one it got lost ( no shops had the kind she took) so that was it no more dummy the first night was a nightmare but all good after that.


When I switched Miss 7 months from the Dream Swaddle (arms by side) to Sleepy Wings (a less restrictive arms up position), she would knock the dummy out and then just chew on her sleeve/hands. A completely stress-free transition to no dummy!


Put a pin hole in it every few days to decrease the sucking effect. Worked a treat. Two/three weeks


6-month-old - did It unintentionally one nap ( he used to take it out and throw it around so didn't put it back in and he went to sleep without it) so just kept going. Took a couple of weeks to get used to self-settling without it but it really was not as bad as I thought it would be and I have a highly strung reflux boy who I thought would make it a nightmare.


Mr 3 had his sucker removed @ 12 months - cold turkey put up with a few rough nights - I think 3 from memory. Miss 2 went cold turkey at about 9 months (possibly a little too early as she struggled with wind) the same thing, just toughed it out for a few days.


First daughter had one from birth til 9 months. I threw them in the rubbish bin and she grizzled about it at bedtime for 3 nights. Was almost too easy.


At about 15/16 months we snipped the teats off the dummies (without her seeing) and showed her they were broken. She threw them in the bin and only asked about it a couple of times. We reminded her she threw them away cos they were broken; no problems. She was never allowed to have her dummy all day, just for sleep and when very tired/sick.


My daughter and son had theirs until they were 3 1/5 and they did have overbites decent ones as well but they're now 10 and 6 and have perfect teeth and no speech troubles either which we were told they would, I know each child is different though.


At 15 months we threw it away. Took one day nap to learn to settle without it.


I cut the tips so they couldn't suck on it. Carried it around for a few days than gladly put it in the bin themselves. Worked a treat for us.


8.5 months. I removed it one morning when he woke up and that was it - cold turkey. That day's naps were shorter than normal but the night was the same. Still waking for his bottle.


She was 2, so a little older. We gave it and her bottles to Santa to give to the new babies who needed them. 3 nights of cuddles and she was fine.


11 months stopped the dummy in the day sleep. For a couple of days then at night. But the night took a bit longer.


My daughter only used it during the day for comfort as I stopped giving it to her at night at 5mths old. One day I just decided to try distracting her when she wanted her dummy and it worked, she forgot about wanting it. Kept doing that for a week or 2 then she just forgot about it.


Waited till 2 yrs 3 months he gave it up himself. But I was never phased about it as he only used it to sleep so just did it when he was ready.


Took her from aus to nz at 16-18 months old. Told her we left the dummies at home with daddy. First night was a bit unsettled but she just drank water!! Didn't even ask after that. She still drinks water at night even now at 6 Years old.


Very strict that was only at bedtime from 12 months. Just prior to 3 yr talked about dummy fairy needed for new baby. On 3rd birthday put in mail box for dummy fairy. Checked later was letter from dummy fairy plus couple of lollies. Couple of grizzles at bedtime otherwise all good. A couple of weeks later took to town to choose a new toy for being a big boy. Did with both boys no probs.


Cut the nipple off. Wouldn't stay in child's mouth. It took a day and a half for her to mourn their passing and then it was over.


I think around 20 months, cold turkey and she did fine-we let her keep her cuddly for quite a bit longer as her sister was due to arrive.


We went cold turkey with our 18 mth old, she handled it really well was only unsettled for a couple of nights.


We tried at 18months got him down to crying for no more than ten minutes at bedtime and nap time after three days then went to my mum's house and she had my nieces, dummies, everywhere and my son found it and started using it. I took it off him and it started world war 3, took him home for a nap and listened to him cry for an hour and a half and we made the decision that it was only for bedtime and had to be put away the rest of the time.


Used teething, she didn't want it because top teeth coming through so never gave it back.


Cold turkey, but combined it with VR sleep training at 9 months. Didn't want him to wake cause he couldn't find the dummy.


3.5yrs gave them to Santa to give to kids in need haven't looked back.


Cold turkey, took 1 night.

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