Note: Unless you have a small child who is heavily reliant on the pacifying effects of a dummy, you will probably be bored to tears by this post. If, however, you are are here by the power of google looking for the holy grail of how to wean a dummy, I feel your pain. Because, this time last week I was you. *waving from the other side* (and still can’t quite believe it).
Our daughter is two. (If you are scrutinising details here to compare notes against your own scenario, then the specifics are pretty critical; She is two years and four months.) She has been happily sucking away on her little magic piece of plastic since the day I switched it slyly from my nipple when she was about four weeks old. I’ll make no qualms about the fact that the decision changed our life. Well, our evenings and our eardrums at least.
It’s ability to sooth our child in an instant has been somewhat addictive. If I told you our daughter only had her dummy for naptimes or bedtime, that would be a big fat lie. She has us wrapped around her little finger, and knows a short whinge is normally enough to be handed her dummy and bunny. On the school run, when she’s watching TV, when I’m cooking, in the car, when she’s tired / cranky / poorly. The list goes on.
So many people have said to me not to worry too much, and to let her wean herself when she’s ready, but it’s just never sat right with me. I can’t hear her talk when she has it in her mouth, and it certainly isn’t conducive to her eating a good meal. Plus, she just kind of ‘checks out’ when she has that dummy in her mouth in a zombie like state.
So, every day has been a constant battle of her wanting, me hiding, and her whinging for that little (manky) mouth plug.
IF AT FIRST YOU DON’T SUCCEED
We did actually try once before to wean her from the dummy, at around twelve months. We tried so hard. In fact we did three nights and three long days. but she had picked up a chest infection, and in desperate need of wanting her to get some rest, we accepted defeat, gave it back, determined to try again ‘soon’. Definitely before she was two.
MOVING THE GOALPOSTS
But, her second birthday came around so quickly. That was our initial milestone, but then it became Christmas, New Year, and finally half term. Determined to get the job done in a distinctly separate time to potty training, we agreed that the week off school this February would be the ideal time. No screaming school runs, and if she keeps her sister awake every night at least she didn’t have to be in class nodding off at the table.
The thing is, as the day approached to get started, she went down big time with a cough, snotty cold and we had our worst night in a long time. So, bitterly disappointed in not going through with it, having talked some stern words to ourselves, we delayed the process until the cough had subsided, four days later.
GETTING OUR STORY STRAIGHT
I’ve grilled everyone I can think of about weaning dummies, and how people did it. The general consensus seemed to be a lovely story involving giving the dummy to babies, or fairies, or birds. One person let their daughter ‘buy’ a toy, giving the dummies to the shopkeeper in a bag (as the shopkeeper pointed out she’d still need the credit card to Mum). One of my absolute favourites was a friend who said they just pretended they had no idea what a dummy was, and acted like it didn’t exist.
Having at some point referenced each and every one of the classic ‘tales’ in the build up, we realised we were probably confusing the hell out of the mouse. Fairies? Birds? Babies? Presents?
Our dummies were hung on a tree in the garden, so the birds could take them for the baby fairies. And, bonus, they left a little present. (Phew, glad we got that one nailed down).
GOING THROUGH WITH IT
On the morning of D-day, we got the job done pretty swiftly in the morning so she had all day to get used to the idea. It all went pretty smoothly – going in the garden in your PJs and wellies was excitement enough to get her engaged, and the lure of a warm bubble bath as a distraction worked wonders in drawing her away.
Whilst daddy distracted, the critical switch was made and the dummies were binned in the stinky outdoor bin with a hoover load of dust on top for good measure. I have to confess I secretly popped one in the back of a cupboard, just in case of a category-D emergency involving ambulances or emergency childcare. Thankfully, it’s still there.
WAS IT THAT BAD?
In all honesty, no. We couldn’t believe how well she adapted to the change, and strangely even said she seemed an overall happier kid without the dummy.
She asked for it a few times on day one when she was tired or upset. Day two she skipped her nap as she couldn’t get to sleep but that’s okay as she’s probably getting near that age anyway (sob).
Having a physical gift to remind her she had exchanged her dummies really helped. Baby Dory was a huge hit and helped soften the blow a little.
By day three she positively embraced the new status quo and when she asked for her bunny, she smiled and told me her dummies with the baby fairies now. A proud moment by all accounts and an unexpected one at that.
It wasn’t all plain sailing mind you. Bedtime on day one was kind of hellish. But, that was to be expected? What we didn’t expect was for her to sleep all night. Granted, she woke up at 5.30 in a foul mood, but considering she only just cracked the sleeping through thing, it’s a result.
Day two and three bedtimes got better and better. It went from 1.5 hours to settle, to 5 minutes, to 0 minutes. We had a little hiccup around day four, but it’s still early days and our evenings are already back to normal.
There is just one part that’s left a bit of a bad taste in our mouths…and that’s the rude awakenings of a very cranky toddler before 6am every day. It’s proving difficult to get her back to sleep so we’re rolling with it, and actually, it’s not that different to before ‘the change’ so in the name of moving forward, we’ll take that on the chin. And there’s always coffee…
Ultimately, the idea of making this change was so much worse than the reality. We created a monster in her desperation for that little comforter, but who knew, the real monster was the fear in OUR minds of waving it goodbye.