My 3.5 year old still uses a dummy and I don't know how to get rid of it without nonstop tantrums. He uses the dummy not only at night (although doesn't call out for it as he knows where to find it and put it back into his mouth) but during the day when he is upset or when he wants comfort. Any tips Nicole on how I can wean my son off his dummy with the least amount of tears.
My best advice for gentle dummy weaning is to start with the daytime. At this point you will need to make some rules about dummy use like when it is okay to use it and when it is not appropriate. It is also important to understand why dummy’s work - quite simply because when your child sucks a relaxing hormone is released in their brain. So there is always a link between being upset and needing comfort or when they are tired and needing to relax. The hit of hormone is very addictive. Without the dummy his own tongue will naturally move against this spot and release a more even dose of hormone. With the sucking a big hit is released. So knowing this doesn’t make the transition any easier for your child but it certainly helps you to understand why they are finding letting it go so difficult and why the tears and demands are so strong.
Start with talking to your child and say something like “from now on he will only be using his dummy at sleep time, in his bed and when being tucked in to go to sleep” other times of the day when upset or needing to relax there are certainly other options, having a cuddle with mum or dad, a massage, reading a book, cuddling some toys, or listening to some music. These are all other ways we all relax and your toddler needs to be given a little nudge to head him in this direction.
Tell him the dummy will no longer be coming to the shops with you or on other outings. He can certainly choose another toy to take with you. I would also put this toy into his bed at night as well to pair it with relaxing. Be sure to notice, praise and comment on times when he is coping well without the dummy. Of course he will ask for the dummy first but if you persist and stick to the new rules after a difficult week or two, he will certainly ask less and less and he will find other ways to relax. Above all be consistent with your following through on the rules. Once the days are cruising by then it’s time to work on the nights in a similar way.