We all know that too much dummy time can impact on our baby, toddlers and children’s communication development. Yes they are great to help a restless baby, to soothe an upset toddler but does your two or three year old (and four or five year old - yes I have seen them in the supermarket!) really need one now?
Many of you will have been thinking you’ll encourage your little one to give their dummy to Father Christmas (good idea!) so here are a few ideas to make it easier.
After all, you don’t want to get to Christmas Eve and your little one say NO WAY!
Just start, Stage One, introducing the idea of giving up the dummy and do just pick one or two to start with, until you are gradually doing them all…
Purchase a few “giving up the dummy books’.”Here are a few suggestions, but some are hard to get hold of so do be prepared to maybe buy second hand. Ben Gives Up His Dummy (there is a Bea Gives Up Her Dummy too), by Jenny Album. The Last Noo Noo by Jill Murphy, Florrie The Dummy Fairy by Anthony J Crosbie and No More Dummy For Piggy by Bernette Ford. Have a look and see which one (or two you think your little one will like best). Share the books and say, “maybe one day you won’t want your dummy any more”, BUT do not cause a fuss, pile on the pressure or argue!
When they are playing suggest they leave the dummy on the table / in their pocket and give them lots of praise.
Every time your child speaks with the dummy in say, “sorry I can’t understand you with the dummy in just pop it in your pocket while we have a lovely chat”. Or “I’m so sorry I’d love to hear what you’ve got to say but I can’t with your dummy in”. If you do this ALL THE TIME your child will soon get fed up putting their dummy in and out and leave it in their pocket!
If your child has the dummy throughout the day you could try saying “dummy is just for bedtime now” and each time they put it in their mouth say, “oh dear are you sleepy, do you want to go to bed or just rest on the couch? I thought we were going to play cars / go to the park etc but if you are too tired….”
Make a dummy box together (shoe box) and decorate with stickers, paper, paint etc. Then when your child wakes or is busy playing they can pop the dummy in the dummy box so it is safe! You could also create a sticker chart and reward your child each time they put their dummy in the dummy box.
Encourage your little one to leave the dummy at home when you go out – does your child really need to take it to the park or Granny’s and no (!) they do not need to take it to nursery and you do not need to give it to them as soon as you pick them up!
Stage Two, once you and your child have managed all these things then move on…
Introduce the idea that they are getting very big and ask them, when they look / ask for their dummy, “do you really need your dummy now you are a big girl / boy?” Don’t criticise your child (this probably is one of their favourite things!) just ask the question and respond gently, “well I think you are getting a bit big for it now but here you go”.
Each time you are out point out to your child the babies who have a dummy and say, “ahhhh look at the little baby who needs their dummy, I’m glad you’re a big girl / boy who doesn’t need their dummy all the time”.
Speak to your local chemist /local shop and when the time comes, ask them to, when you come in with your little one to say “I’m sorry we only sell dummies to babies and you are a very big boy!” This way once their old dummy gets worn out it can’t be replaced!
Stage Three, so it’s now time to let the dummy go …
Make a countdown sheet to help your child get used to the idea of giving the dummy up. Just create one with maybe five (no more than seven!) spaces for ‘sleeps’ and each night or morning pop a sticker on and say “only two more sleeps till no more dummy”. Give your child lots of praise too. I know Talking To Our Babies used to do a fab Giving Up The Dummy Pack but I’m not sure if they still do, you’ll have to watch their page!
At bedtime enjoy reading their bedtime story – but explain the dummy is for after the story. You’ll have to read for a little longer, but this way they are learning to settle and calm themselves before sleep – maybe you could read till they fall asleep without the dummy – but build up to this gradually.
On the last night let your child wrap up the dummy, pop it in a special box or bag, and leave it out for the Christmas Fairy to collect for Father Christmas or maybe you could post it to him. When they wake in the morning do have a special thank you card and small present for your child off Father Christmas who’ll be saying, thank you so much!
Just a last idea, don’t wait till Christmas Eve, do your countdown the week before, Christmas is busy enough and routines all change (which can unsettle our children) so best to do this earlier if you can, after all your little one may have tears and once the dummy has gone it CANNOT come back!
Oh and if your little one will just not consider saying bye to the dummy, still do stage one or the first two in stage two, but then stop and try again in a month or so - life is too short to argue and it is Christmas!
Written by, on Facebook, Me & You @meandyoubyjenni to support the Greater Shantallow Talking To Our Babies, Greater Shantallow Area Partnership. Telephone 028 71358787 / Facebook; Talking To Our Babies / www.shantallow.net
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