Parent Question: My three year old still uses a dummy for sleep time, for quiet time and more embarrassingly when we're at the shops. At what age to I put my foot down and throw out the dummy. Any ideas on how to do this without too much pain.

By three years as you know it is time to get rid of her dummy.  If you are feeling embarrassed then it is a definite sign that at this age he is not a baby anymore.  However this is certainly a difficult step to take, as the dummy is his comforter in times of tiredness.

Firstly I recommend that you make sure you put him down to sleep whenever you see her first signs of tiredness, e.g. Starting to grizzle, getting restless, change in mood, rubbing his eyes, yawning, as the more overtired he is the more difficult this whole process will be.

Secondly, you need to decide, do you just throw out the dummy or do you do a slower approach?  Your question seems to ask both.  Perhaps it will help you to know that I have had parents who change every single aspect when it comes to their child’s sleep and comforting overnight and of course with great concern and worry as to how their child will be able to cope.  Amazingly their child has coped with all of it.

Obviously, you need to give them a week or two to adjust and expect protest however, they do adjust remarkably well and remarkably quickly given that they have had 3 years of one method and only 2 weeks of another.  Therefore, the decision is yours, just throw out the dummies and talk to your 3 year old as to how things are changing and what you expect instead, praise them for coping and do not go back, no matter how tempted you are to zip out and buy another dummy.  In the end you are not helping your child through this changing time.

Another suggestion is remove the dummy for the majority of times and decide when and where you will use it i.e. when they are extremely overtired.  Make sure you have this worked out prior, as typically parents are emotionally vulnerable and manipulated into returning the dummy when they really wanted to stick to their plan to eliminate it due to their child’s inability to cope without it.  Perhaps you just keep it for difficult days or days where you have appointments.  Be forewarned that you will find more excuses than you intended for its use due to your child’s reaction.  Keep the end goal in mind and if you do decide to use it be sure to do so immediately rather than waiting for 30 minutes of whining as you will then teach your child to whine for 30 minutes, then you have a difficult behaviour to deal with.



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