It’s important to note that most children will give up the dummy when they’re ready to – and you’re unlikely to come across a high school kid who hasn’t reached that stage yet. But, if you’ve decided that it’s time to wean your toddler off a dummy, here are a few strategies you can try to make sure they stop using a dummy for good while making the transition easier for them… and you!
Go cold turkey
This is the ‘tough love’ approach that some parents swear by while others find it cruel. You can simply tell your child they’re no longer allowed a dummy and that you’ve taken it away, or tell them you’ve ‘lost it’. The key here is consistency: if the dummy has been taken away, don’t cave when your toddler starts to whine or cry. You may be in for a tough couple of days but it will be worth it in the end.
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Wean off slowly
If you’re not comfortable forcing your little one to go cold turkey, you can take a slower approach. Start eliminating the dummy from daytime naps, offering it only at night. Only once your child is completely comfortable with this should you consider doing the same with nighttime access to their dummy.
A lot of kids will spit their dummy out after they’ve fallen asleep so you could sneak into their bedroom and remove the dummy from their bed or cot. Yes, they may get a little distraught and will look for it when they wake up in the middle of the night but they will have to tough it out (warning parents: you’ll have to tough it out too!). Some parents believe this is a kinder approach to getting rid of the dummy as your toddler likely won’t ‘blame’ you for it going missing.
Give it away
There are two tactics you can try here. If your child knows a young baby ask if they’d be willing to ‘give’ their dummy to the new baby, explaining that they’re older now and dummies are better suited to younger children. You can also try asking your child to ‘trade’ the dummy for something else they want, like a new toy.
Destroy it in stages
Disclaimer: safety experts often advise not to give a child a dummy that has been damaged in any way, but this remains a very popular – and often effective – way to wean a child off a dummy. If you want to try this method, you can consider poking a few holes in the teat or cutting a small section off it, progressing to bigger holes and cutting off more of the teat.
Alter the taste
A lot of parents apply bitter-tasting nail varnish to their child’s nails to encourage them to stop biting their nails and you can try something similar to wean your child off the dummy. Dip it in pure lemon juice or white vinegar – the hope is that the child will begin to associate the unpleasant taste with the dummy and will choose to give the dummy up themselves.