Dummy Truths

The truth about the Dreaded Dummy…


“I am doing the dummy run multiple times a night – how can I stop this?!”


“My child is 3 years old and still uses a dummy – what do I do?!”


“Should dummies be encouraged in any capacity?!”


Here are the all important facts…


When a Dummy is useful

When my boys were so little that our midwife was still on the scene, her advice was that we should encourage the use of a dummy. The main reason… when a dummy is in use, a baby will be restricted in terms of mouth breathing. Therefore, they will naturally learn how to breathe through their noses and learning how to breathe through both their noses and their mouths.

The promotion of safe sleep practice and taking relevant steps to reduce the risk of SIDS continues to be important learning for parents.


As a sleep specialist, my priority is to do everything I can to support exhausted parents, with the right information and the right steps toward success. However, sleep safety is always paramount. In a situation where parents are questioning the use of their child’s dummy under the age of 6months, I would always recommend if the dummy is to be removed, that it is replaced with gentle and gradual alternative approaches.


If the parents view is that the dummy is not an issue, then I am happy to work with a family who choose to keep the dummy until the 6month stage.


However, beyond the age of 6months, research concludes that the dummy serves no purpose other than continuing as a bad habit which… can be really difficult to break if it’s left too long and a child becomes heavily reliant on the comfort factor which they have developed with it from a very early age.


Often my parents will remind me, and complain to anybody who will listen, that I was in fact the classic child that never slept nightmare… That lack of sleep lead to the onset of PND with my mum and that nothing ever helped to improve the impossible situation my parents experienced with me. As a qualified sleep specialist, I can now give them feedback on the situation which they created by allowing me to have a dummy, not only as a baby, but until I was FOUR YEARS OLD. Get with program mum and dad, I will teach you a thing or two!!



When the Dummy becomes a problem


Self-settling issues

Impact on teeth

Relentless dummy runs

Sleep disruption for child and parents



Gradual Vs Cold Turkey


I have worked with many families where the dummy is an issue and preventing the child from being able to fully self-settle to sleep. We are pretty logical beings, and it does seem pretty logical to try to compromise by not offering the dummy in the day, or only at night, or only for sleep.


Essentially, what then happens is that parents feel like they can justify the continued use of the sleep crutch and dodge the dreaded ditching for a bit longer, thus delaying the inevitable and allowing the reliance to become heavier in the meantime.


The only way to commit to a successful dummy exit, is by going cold turkey. In terms of behaviorally, this helps your little one to be crystal clear on the expectation that from that point, they will learn, and practice, the skill of independent sleep and successful self-settling. This skill will only become established if a child has the opportunity to learn how to go to sleep completely by themselves without any reliance, crutches or associations.


Having a consistent response from mum and dad is the key to success with most sleep challenges. Kids like to know where they stand. Mixed signals cause frustration and are likely to make things even more difficult.


Dummy Transition Questions

Is your little one having the dummy outside of the bed?

What is your reason for ditching the dummy?

What is your strategy?

What will you use when it gets tough and your little one is crying for the dummy?


It’s worth considering all of the above if you are preparing for a dummy ditch.

Take it from me… the best way to approach such a mega change to your child’s routine and taking them into a situation which is alien for them – (self-settling), is to be fully equipped with the right resources, information and strategies. Knowing what you can offer instead of the dreaded dummy is key to a smooth and successful transition into the world of independent sleep.


If you would like some info on my recommended strategies for this sleep challenge, get in touch today - eileen@fairysleepmother.co.uk Tel:07837513923


Fairy Sleep Mother

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