Baby Soother

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Choosing, handling and, in the end, giving up the dummy

baby dummy There's nothing worse than desperately looking for your baby's soother in a busy shopping mall, while baby is screaming in the pushchair, people struggle to pass you and your ton of shopping bags and the damn thing is nowhere to be found! If it's happened to you too, you know what we're talking about. If you're lucky, they might have them in that very shop. If you're not, you'll have to go for something similar, give it a good wash in the ladies and pray it'll be OK even unsterilised. If it's really your bad day, baby will spit it right out and go on screaming for the baby soother.


So here comes our first tip on handling a baby soother:

  • Go for the most accessible model, preferably one that can be found at your local shop or pharmacy.

Followed by the second one:

  • Buy a reasonable reserve of the same model.

You will probably curse the inspiration of getting the fanciest model of a dummy that can be found on the internet only. By the time it arrives, you probably wish it was a 50p one from the Post Office. It's true that babies find huge comfort in dummies, it's something not only mental, but somatic, too. Sucking on a baby soother increases the levels of serum cortisol which is related to calming and soothing.

When is the right time to break free from the dummy?

As the years pass and your baby becomes a toddler, the shopping mall screaming becomes somehow embarrassing so here are a few tips on how to break free from a dummy. Most opinions consider 2 to 3 years old to be a good age for breaking free. It's true that, the later you leave it, the harder it gets.

  • You might need to make a big deal after each little potty success at this age, but make sure you treat the lack of the baby soother as casual. The more you reassure your baby he doesn't need it, as he's a big boy now, every time he asks for it, the better he'll understand it; the less you mention it, the less importance he's going to give it and the quicker he'll forget about it.
  • Distract your baby with other important things, unlike a baby soother, such as the potty training, going out in the park, playing his favourite game, giving him his favourite toy and so on.
  • When he's fully potty trained, tell him: "Look what a clever boy you are, you're using the potty now, dummies are for babies, not big boys like you!" Keep the same positive tone about it and make sure you always find something else to focus his attention on. If the potty is already a casual thing, talk about his favourite cartoon character, go out to the local shop for an ice cream, anything will do.

Other parents found that some of the following ideas actually worked when it comes to giving up the baby soother

  • An animal or a character takes it away for a big prize: such as Santa, in return for their favourite treat or toys; or the Soother Fairy who comes one night, takes the baby soother away and leaves behind the gorgeous outfit they've seen in Toys r Us or Woolworths; or maybe Scooby Doo sneaks in one night and exchanges it for a cool train set. Or give it to the Easter Bunny.
  • Find a funny way to give it away: such as organise a boot sale for nanny with a small display of baby things for her to buy. She will buy the baby soother, obviously, and donate it to a charity for poor babies. Or organise a trip to the recycle yard and ask him to throw it in the bin, where toys are recycled into bicycles, action figures or rubber stamps for making cards and posters. Then read the notice board for him: Thank you for recycling your dummy. Your baby soother will be turned into a Spiderman. You will receive your Spiderman in the post in two days. Surely, your toddler will have something to look forward to and make sure that Spiderman is in the post at the right time, as notice people always keep their promises. Your toddler will be thrilled to receive it and will feel proud to have recycled him dummy this way. Watch out: all his friends will find out about your little hero's adventure.
  • Be mean: some parents have the bravery to go the hard way and add chilli sauce on the dummy or some other horrible smelly things, like nail polish or even pierce the dummy so it becomes uncomfortable to suck on. We strongly recommend NOT to do these, as you could harm your child.

Why is breaking free from dummy necessary?

A prolonged baby soother use can lead to speech impediments and deformation of the jaws and teeth. The problem is in no way solved if your toddler swaps it for the thumb or any other finger. It actually gets worse, as this will not only deform their oral cavity, but their fingers and nails, too. If this happens, swap back to the baby soother until your toddler is truly ready to break free and try again after a few months. An intermediary step is to limit the dummy time at nap time or bed time and try to impose a strict rule of going to the nursery dummy free.

If, after a few weeks of trying, you're still struggling, maybe there is a deeper emotional issue to deal with, so consider consulting your HV's advice on the matter.

Consider spreading the breaking free from dummy and the potty training so they coincide. It would be a lot easier for you and your baby to have to deal with one task at a time. Find out more about potty training on our website.

Share your tips for success on the BabyWonderland forum.