Q&A: Dummy disaster
When my daughter was 21 months old we were on holiday at the seaside and buried her dummy in the sand. The first night without her dummy was terrible. She cried non-stop. For a week after all that all was fine and I thought she’d forgotten all about the dummy. But then she got ill and the screaming started again. I went out and bought her a new dummy. Now she uses it only when she goes to sleep. How will I know she’s ready to give it up, and should I let her get rid of it her own way?

A dummy gives your toddler comfort and security. To wean toddlers from their dummies takes a lot of time and patience. The recommended age to wean your child is between 18 and 24 months. Many paediatricians and dentists believe that dummies interfere with orthodontic development and can influence language development. This is not always the case. Experts recommend that parents give children a substitute as a reward for giving up their dummies – something like a teddy or a blankie. Consistency is important. It’s difficult to break old habits and therefore only natural that your toddler will cry – persevere! The natural weaning process occurs when your child starts to establish her own independence and tells you to bin the dummy or throws it away herself. You can wean your child gradually by allowing her to suck a dummy at bedtime only. This will prepare your toddler for giving up it up completely. Talk to her and explain to her that she’s a big girl now and that only babies need dummies. A more radical approach is to go “cold turkey” which requires you to throw away the dummy and handle the fall-out. Whichever method you choose, you’ll have to be ready for the emotional drama as your child grows into her independence.

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