A couple of weeks after H was born and we still struggled to settle her when she was tired. After a nap she was fine. During and after a feed she was fine. But nothing would soothe her to sleep. So since her feeding was fairly established, we tried giving her a dummy. The difference was astonishing and immediate. Having something in her mouth calmed her down and she would stop crying and just gaze at the world until she nodded off. Our lives were significantly improved by giving her something to suck.
I have never for a moment regretted giving her a dummy. Needs must and we most certainly had a need. As H started teething (which started early despite it being months before something broke through) it helped her further. She would use it to get to sleep and then spit it out, often self-settling without it in the night. I never had a worries about a major dependency. That said, I often read so many negative comments and articles about parents using dummies that I couldn’t help but feel some mum-guilt.
Public opinion on dummies is certainly mixed. Many health professionals say that they can disrupt breastfeeding. There are also claims that using a dummy once teething starts can cause dental issues. But in contrast to that, letting a baby use a dummy as they fall asleep can reduce the risk of SIDS. General guidance is, where a dummy is needed, to wean off by the child’s first birthday. So despite my confidence in our decision to use a dummy, I targeted H turning one as the time to start weaning.
But her birthday came and went and I just didn’t feel she was ready. She self-weaned off the bottle (and to be honest, off the breast too) but I wasn’t getting any similar vibes from her about the dummy. She was teething heavily at that time and would often need the dummy to sleep. She’d only been using the dummy for naps and bedtime since about 8 months so I decided to re-evaluate at 18 months.
My new deadline passed with no weaning but a few weeks ago she started behaving very strangely with her dummy. She wanted it but didn’t. Whichever one we gave her, she’d want the one on the side. I asked nursery to try putting her for a nap without one and she conked out without any argument. So I tried at home and just got tears and anger. I think it was because she was getting tonsillitis. So I left her…until Friday when I went in to give her a drink in the evening and she’d chomped her way through her dummy. I mean there were several piercings all the way through from her little gnashers! I gave her a spare and all was ok. But then the next night she did it AGAIN! So I decided now was the time. From that moment, she had to go cold turkey.
She fell asleep without complaint for her Saturday nap. But she was overtired and still a bit unwell at bedtime so had a complete tantrum. I soothed her once (for her to have a tantrum again as soon as I put her down) but in the end I had to just leave her to cry for a bit. 10 minutes after we said goodnight and she was asleep. Since then she’s looked for it a couple of times but giving her an extra teddy for her cot seems to have been sufficient distraction.
So it’s official – we’ve weaned off the dummy. Hurrah! I’m not expecting we’re free-and-clear yet. But she’s gone 4 days now so there is no going back. Sam and I will need to learn how to soothe her without relying on the dummy…which I think we did a little more than we intended. It’s a relief to know that it’s done though! I’m certain that as with everything else, waiting until H showed signs of rejecting the dummy is what has made it reasonably pain free.
Although despite being relieved at getting rid of the dummy, I would never judge another parent for giving their child a dummy. I would never judge another parent for giving their child a dummy in the day time, or letting their child keep their dummy when they are 2 /3 years old. The stigma around dummies really aggravates me and it needs to stop. Some children need them and that’s that. I know if I were to go back to the few weeks after H was born, I would still do as I did!