May 23, 2024

Is it time to ditch the dummy?

Is it time to ditch the dummy?

Dummy, pacifier, sucky, soother, binky…

It has so many different names depending on what part in the world you are but, let's look.... has it is truly a benefit, or has it become a hindrance for your little ones sleep.


Using a dummy has a lot of benefits when it comes to calming and settling your baby. The sucking is soothing for your bub and helps switch on the calming reflex, lower blood pressure and has even been shown to reduce the risk of SIDS in newborns!

For older babies, these can be a life saver as a positive sleep association as this sucking can remain a comfort and emotional connection long-term.


First, I want to say that if it is working for you and your baby, there is absolutely no need to remove it!

One of the biggest things we can see with dummies and sleep is the need to have it frequently replaced during naps and overnight sleep. If your bub is waking after each sleep cycle looking for you to replace it, it may be time to look at removing reliance on the dummy.

Are you replacing it multiple times overnight for a quick re-settle?

At any age, your family paediatrician or dentist may recommend ditching the dummy - be guided by your trusted professionals always. In these situations the age is irrelevant - we just need to focus on realistic expectations that for some, it can be a little bit trickier and we may need to be more supportive when it comes to sleep in particular. 



Long story short, remove it when it is no longer helpful and is now a hindrance!

We often find it very easy to remove it until the age of 7-8 months of age, as the emotional connection to the dummy has not quite formed and the dummy is quickly forgotten once it is no longer offered.

If your bub is under this age and is starting to wake frequently looking for the dummy, consider removing the dummy cold-turkey AKA instantly!

After 7-8 months your baby’s attachment and dependency on the dummy becomes quite a bit deeper rooted and becomes much more difficult to ditch. If your baby is 7-8+ months and is needing your help frequently to replace the dummy in order to continue sleeping, it can be helpful to encourage bub to learn how to find and replace the dummy on their own! Teaching this skill helps turn the dummy into a positive sleep association and can actually improve the quality of their sleep.

If you have kept the dummy into toddlerhood, likely sleep is no longer being negatively impacted by the dummy, but there are other reasons you may be thinking of removing it. One of the biggest reasons you may want to remove the dummy at this age is for oral development of the palette and teeth. The recommendation from paediatric dentists is to decrease use around the age of 2, having weaned it completely by age 4.

The other common reason to remove it into toddlerhood is noticing that speech has been delayed due to the frequency of having the dummy in the mouth, or perhaps you just feel your child is ready to move past the dummy.

Regardless of your reasons, removing the dummy into toddlerhood can be a little bit more tricky. The biggest thing to consider is that your little one has the cognitive ability to understand the reasoning behind removing the dummy. For this reason, we suggest waiting to at least 2.5-3 years of age as this is when your toddler is able to understand the process.


As you read above, removing the dummy is quite easy before 7-8 months of age and at this age we would suggest removing it cold-turkey and implement an alternate method of settling to get them to sleep and start getting comfortable without the sucking. Some babies are capable of removing it for sleep while keeping it for the car or during fussy periods – this greatly varies depending on your bubs temperament.

From 7-8+ months we typically suggest keeping the dummy and instead teaching your bub how to find and replace it on their own. This is not to say you cannot remove it after this age, but it does become harder as they become quite emotionally attached. If you choose to remove it at this age, expect quite a bit of protest for a few days.

For toddlers 2.5+, set the groundwork of this transition by talking to your child about why you are removing it, when it’s going to be gone and how. Once you set the plan in motion, ensure you have very clear boundaries and remain consistent on the approach while supporting your child through the change.

Of course, depending on your toddlers temperament, they may be just fine to stop using the dummy and some have even thrown it in the trash themselves! But, if your bub is quite sensitive and very attached, you may want to gradually decrease the reliance by limiting the times or amounts they have it during the day while preparing for the day it’s gone. Talking and reading books about it and having a visual countdown can be very helpful.

When it comes to actually removing it, some families get creative and have the dummy fairy come – on the decided date that you’ve been counting down to, have your toddler pack up their dummy and leave it out for the dummy fairy to pick them up and take them to a new baby that needs them. In their place they’ll find a fun new age-appropriate toy or game in exchange and as a thank you for giving their dummies away. They’ll be excited for their gift and also feel proud that they could help another child.

Not sure how to survive without the dummy? We can help!

  • For help with weaning your toddler off of the dummy, have a look at our 30-min Quick Chat option
  • For parents struggling with several things such as catnapping, frequent night waking, early morning rising or things that simply no longer work, have a look at our Phone & Two Week Support option.
  • Not sure what is right for you? Get on the phone to one of our experienced consultants with our FREE 15min Discovery Call