How to Get a Toddler to Give Up Dummy: Effective Strategies for Parents

Here at The Toddler Life, we understand the attachment toddlers can have to their dummies, but we also know that it’s essential for them to eventually give up this comfort item.

In this article, we’ll be discussing strategies to help your child transition away from relying on their dummy in a gentle and effective manner.

We realize that each toddler is unique, so our aim is to provide a variety of methods that cater to different temperaments and stages of development. By focusing on consistency, communication, and gradual change, we believe that your little one will be able to leave their dummy behind and continue growing in confidence without it.

In the upcoming sections, we will present techniques and tips based on expert advice and practical examples that can make this process a smoother experience for both you and your child.

By understanding and addressing the reasons behind their attachment, we can work together to help them overcome their reliance on the dummy, allowing them to move forward in their development journey.

Understanding Dummy Use and Comfort

The Role of Dummy in a Toddler’s Life

Dummies, or pacifiers, play a significant role in comforting toddlers during their early stages of development. They provide a sense of security, which can help relieve stress and aid in self-soothing. It’s not uncommon for children to form strong attachments to their dummies, as they associate them with relaxation and emotional stability.

While dummy use can be helpful for younger infants, it’s important to recognize that over time, this reliance on a pacifier may become an issue. Prolonged dummy use can interfere with proper dental and speech development, as well as hinder a toddler’s ability to self-soothe without this object.

When to Consider Weaning Off the Dummy

As a general guideline, it’s a good idea to start weaning toddlers off the dummy around the age of one1. At this age, children have typically developed other coping strategies for dealing with stress and emotions, and the risks associated with prolonged dummy use begin to outweigh the benefits.

When considering weaning a toddler from their dummy, it’s crucial to take the following factors into account:

  • Child’s Age: As mentioned earlier, weaning a toddler off a dummy is often recommended around one year of age1. However, each child is different, and caregivers should ultimately make a decision that best suits each child’s unique situation.
  • Stress Levels: If your toddler is experiencing high stress or significant life changes, it might not be the best time to push for weaning off the dummy. It can be helpful to wait for a more stable period to begin the weaning process.

When weaning a toddler off their dummy, it’s essential to be patient and supportive. Helping them develop alternative coping strategies for managing stress and emotions can be an effective way to gradually replace the need for a dummy in their lives.


  1. “Dummies and weaning: How and when to stop dummy use – BBC Tiny Happy People” 2

Preparing for the Weaning Process

Communicating with Your Child

It’s essential to have open and honest conversations with your child when preparing to wean them off a pacifier. We should try to explain the reasons why it’s time to let go of their dummy, and emphasize the positives of saying goodbye to it. Keep in mind that patience is key, as your toddler might not understand the concept immediately. Be prepared to have multiple conversations if necessary.

Introducing Alternative Comfort Objects

While weaning your child off a pacifier, it’s crucial to introduce alternative comfort objects that can help with the transition. Some children might prefer:

  • Soft toys or stuffed animals
  • A small blanket, also known as a “security blanket”
  • A small pillow
  • Age-appropriate teething toys
  • A favorite bedtime story or song

Remember that every child is different, so you may need to try out a few options to find the right replacement for their dummy.

Choosing the Right Timing

Timing is an important factor when starting the weaning process. We should avoid starting this process during significant life changes, such as moving homes or starting a new daycare. Choosing a period when your child feels most stable and secure can make the transition smoother.

Key Timelines:

Age Considerations
Between 6 and 9 months Ideal time to begin weaning, as dependency on the pacifier is usually lower at this age.
Between 2 and 4 years old Weaning off a pacifier is recommended before this age to avoid dental and speech issues.

To sum it up, preparing for the weaning process requires effective communication with your child, the introduction of alternative comfort objects, and choosing the right timing to make the transition as smooth as possible. With patience, understanding, and practice, the weaning process will gradually become easier for both the parent and toddler.

Strategies for Weaning Off Dummy

Using a Gradual Approach

One effective method for helping your child give up their dummy is by using a gradual approach. This strategy involves slowly reducing the frequency and duration of dummy use. Start by limiting dummy use to specific times and places, like the car or cot, to allow your child to adapt to being without the dummy more frequently 1. As your child becomes more comfortable in those situations, you can further restrict the usage until it is only part of their sleep routine.

With this approach, offering an alternative comfort object can be beneficial. Many times, the most embarrassing episodes can be assisted with a favorite soft toy 2. By providing a more appropriate alternative, your child has a chance to develop new ways of self-soothing while phasing out the dummy.

Another gradual tactic is to slightly modify the dummy, making it less appealing. Use a small needle to make a hole in the dummy, which reduces suction 3. Over time, your child may begin to lose interest in the dummy as it becomes less satisfying.

Going Cold Turkey

Another effective strategy to consider is going “cold turkey” by completely eliminating the dummy from your child’s routine. For some children, this may prove more efficient than a gradual approach.

One successful method of going cold turkey is introducing the “Dummy Fairy” concept. Once your child is ready, they can leave their dummies out for the Dummy Fairy who takes them away and leaves a present in return 4. This helps children understand the importance of moving on and gives them something positive to focus on during the transition.

Remember, choosing the best approach depends on your child’s temperament and your family’s situation. It is essential to stay consistent and supportive during this process, as your child may experience some emotional struggles while weaning off the dummy.


  1. Raising Children Network
  2. BBC Tiny Happy People
  3. Bounty
  4. Mummy Of Four

Managing Difficult Emotions and Reactions

Handling Tantrums and Upset Moments

When dealing with a toddler’s tantrums and upset moments, it is essential to understand the root cause of their emotions. Toddlers often express difficult emotions because they cannot communicate their feelings or needs effectively1. As caregivers, we should help them learn to express their emotions constructively.

First, we can label their emotions and acknowledge them, which makes toddlers feel understood. For example, say, “I see that you’re upset because you can’t have the dummy.” By doing this, we’re teaching them to identify and express their feelings appropriately2.

Next, help the child practice deep breathing to calm down. Teach them to breathe in slowly through their nose, and then out through their mouth3. Remind them to “smell a flower, then blow up a balloon” to make it fun and easy to remember.

Additionally, taking a break and stepping away for a short time from the situation can restore calmness. As long as everyone is safe, this can help both you and the toddler clear your minds4.

Encouraging Cooperation with Rewards

To get a toddler to give up the dummy, it’s essential to encourage cooperation with rewards. Positive reinforcement can motivate children to make more desirable choices in the future. Here are some ideas for using rewards effectively:

  • Praise and reinforcement: Offer verbal praise and support when the child willingly surrenders the dummy for brief periods. For example, say, “Great job giving up the dummy for a little while today!”
  • Token rewards: Establish a token system, such as a sticker chart, where the child earns stickers for letting go of the dummy. Once a certain number of stickers are collected, they can be exchanged for a small prize or privilege.
  • Activities and experiences: Reward your toddler with special activities or experiences, like a trip to the park or extra playtime, when they show progress in giving up the dummy.

Using these strategies, we can help toddlers manage difficult emotions and reactions while encouraging cooperation as they transition away from the dummy altogether. Patience, understanding, and consistency are crucial for success.


  1. Zero to Three – Toddlers and Challenging Behavior: Why They Do It and How to Respond
  2. PBS – Helping Toddlers Understand Their Emotions
  3. Verywell Family – How to Help an Overly Emotional Child
  4. Understood – Why Kids Have Trouble Managing Emotions

Special Techniques to Encourage Giving Up Dummy

Introducing the Dummy Fairy

We recommend introducing the concept of the “Dummy Fairy” to your toddler as a fun and engaging method to help them give up their dummy. Explain to your child that when they are ready, they can leave their dummies out for the Dummy Fairy one night, and the Dummy Fairy will bring a special gift in exchange for the dummies. This can motivate your child to willingly let go of their dummy, as they associate it with a reward and a sense of accomplishment1.

Limiting Dummy Use to Bedtime

Another effective technique is to gradually limit the usage of the dummy to specific times and settings, such as bedtime only2. This can help your child get used to being without the dummy during the day, and make it easier for them to eventually wean off it completely. Here are some tips to achieve this:

  • Set clear limits: Make it clear to your child that they can only use the dummy at bedtime, and stick to those rules. Consistency is key.
  • Reward progress: Offer praise and small rewards for the achievements your child makes when the dummy usage is limited.
  • Create a special spot for the dummy: Designate a specific place for the dummy to be kept during the day, to help your child understand it is only for bedtime2.

By implementing these tips in your journey to help your toddler give up their dummy, you can make the process smoother and more enjoyable for both of you. Stay patient, and remember that every child is unique and the pace of progress may vary.


  1. Mummy Of Four
  2. Raising Children Network 2

Frequently Asked Questions

Do dummies affect children’s speech and dental development?

While moderate use of dummies is not likely to cause significant issues, if a child becomes overly reliant on their dummy, it may interfere with their speech and dental development. It’s essential to monitor your child’s use of a dummy and consider limiting it to certain situations or times, such as at naptime or during car rides 1, 2.

When is the right time for a child to give up a dummy?

There is no strict age at which a child must give up their dummy; however, most experts recommended gradually weaning a child off their dummy somewhere between 12 and 36 months. This helps prevent any possible effects on speech or dental development 3.

How can I help my child transition from a dummy?

Here are some tips to help your child give up their dummy:

  1. Limit dummy usage: Restrict the dummy to specific places or situations, like naptime or car rides 1, 2.
  2. Offer alternative comfort items: Encourage your child to associate with other forms of comfort, like a favorite toy or a soft blanket 4.
  3. Be patient and consistent: There may be some resistance, but remaining patient and consistent in your approach will help your child adjust 2.

What if my child gets upset if I take away their dummy?

It’s normal for children to feel attached to their dummy and may become upset during the weaning process. Comfort and reassure your child during this transition, offering them other sources of comfort and distraction. It might take some time, but your child will eventually learn to adapt without the dummy 2.


  1. Raising Children Network 2
  2. Babyology 2 3 4
  3. BBC Tiny Happy People
  4. MadeForMums


In our experience, helping a toddler give up the dummy can be challenging, but with patience and consistency, we’ve found that it’s achievable. One effective method we suggest is gradually limiting the use of the dummy to specific times and places, such as the car or the cot, which can help a child get used to being without it (“Dummies: helping children give up dummies – Raising Children Network”).

Another approach we’ve seen work is offering a new comfort object, like a cuddly toy or blanket, as a substitute when the dummy is no longer available (“How do I help my child give up the dummy? | MadeForMums”). This can distract the child and provide an alternative source of comfort.

Additionally, we’ve come across the idea of making the dummy less appealing by slightly cutting away a small part of it, causing the child to lose interest (“Mum’s Hack On Getting Your Toddler To Give Up Dummy Sparks Debate …”). However, it’s crucial to ensure that this method doesn’t pose any choking hazards.

Finally, it’s important for us as parents to be patient and understanding during this transitional period. Some toddlers may give up their dummy easily, while others may require more support and reassurance. By offering encouragement and celebrating their progress, we can help our toddlers successfully let go of the dummy when they are ready.

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How to Get a Toddler to Give Up Dummy: Effective Strategies for Parents

How to Get a Toddler to Give Up Dummy: Effective Strategies for Parents