When it comes to the dummy, or the ‘nun nun’ as it’s known in our house, it can be a love-hate relationship. Before I had my son I hated dummies – the look of them in a mouth, a child struggling to speak with one in, the teeth issues associated with one and the annoying reliance some children develop… but then I had a baby who would scream at every nappy change, who struggled to settle and refused to sleep unless he was on the breast; and so the dummy was introduced. At the time it was my lifesaver, his comforter and calmed the household. He teethed so badly and it was desperately needed by him to help ease the stress caused.
Oh I’ve had the comments, even from strangers, about having ‘that thing’ in his mouth and I’ve had to defend it many a time, each time with me thinking ‘why should I have to?!’ Why do others think it is ok to judge the way we do things and our parenting choices? I had the same discussion at his 2-year check with the health visitor telling me to take it away that weekend and to just get it done. No matter how hard I tried to explain how he still needed it she insisted that going ‘cold turkey’ was the best way. I knew it had to go, it had even started to get on my nerves a bit, but I had a toddler in pain from his back molars coming and we were still relying on it to settle him. I knew he wasn’t ready.
But when is a child ready?
A few months later he started to show signs of becoming too obsessed with his ‘nun nun’ I began to think it was time. Luckily most of his teeth had finally come through and the worst period was over. So I chose my week and I stuck to it. I spent the week before explaining that the babies in the hospitals needed his dummies and that he was now a big boy and too old to have one. I told him when Mummy needed to send them (at the weekend) and made sure I repeated this throughout the days. On the Saturday morning we simply took it away… we weren’t quite brave enough to bin them all, so we put one away in the cupboard without him noticing, and told him they were now with the new babies. I must admit I felt awful – one of those guilty mother moments as if we don’t have enough of those in our normal week!! He asked for it a lot that day, plus he point blank refused to nap, but surprisingly he went down at night fine and slept through.
He continued not to nap but then, being over 2, they tend to drop these anyway so it may have just been a coincidence that it happened at the same time. He did ask for it up until the following Wednesday, but not as much as I had expected, and then he just stopped. He was happy going to bed at night, he wasn’t whining or crying for it like I had imagined and he even told me a few times that the new babies had it.
In my mind I thought the situation would have gone like this: screaming child, no sleep, the whole family up every night, tears from him, tears from me, possible rocking back and forth in the corner (yep me again), then finally us giving in and handing the dummy back.
It’s now been 2 weeks and all dummies are in the bin, he’s fine and happy, not upset or stressed and neither are we.
Maybe I did put it off too long, or maybe I just picked the right moment for all of us. Who knows? All I know is that it was much easier than I thought and I am so glad it is gone. He now talks much more, his vocabulary has improved and I no longer have to be asked for his ‘nun nun’ all day long!
- Come up with a story of where dummy is going and stick to it. I’ve heard of many, such as the dummy fairy will come and take it, it’s going to Father Christmas and you get presents in return, the Easter Bunny comes, you post them to the new babies, you attach them to balloons and release them and so on. Just make sure you pick something that will work for you.
- Explain to your child so they can understand – you don’t want to just go taking it away.
- Distract them with days out, time with family and toys.
- Reassure your child that it’s all ok and use your story to reiterate where it has gone.
- Maybe keep just one tucked away in case the time just isn’t right and your child becomes very distressed.
- You as parents need to be strong, often it’s us that love the dummy more than the child!
If this is your next milestone good luck xx