A little while ago I wrote a blog about ditching the dummy. We were going through a tough time. Missy was in a new bed, she wasn’t sleeping well, and we weren’t sure why. I think I can now say with certainty there was one reason – the dummy!
Just over one month later and things have settled down. I write this as a beacon of hope for anyone in the middle of the dummy ditch – or tempted to get rid of the dummy soon.
The three-days-to-ditch-a-habit thing? That’s bullshit! Yes, it will only take three days before your kid stops being inconsolable about the dummy, but – in my experience at least – it will take more than a month for your child to learn how to exist without it.
It’s not like missy was crying herself to sleep without it, but what we found was missy was taking a lot longer to get to sleep. Most nights we were lucky if she was asleep by 8.30pm. This was a child that, pre-dummy-cleanse, was in bed at 6.30 most nights. She was also refusing to have her day nap, and waking through that night – a lot! We stressed ourselves out trying to get her to sleep during the day (seriously, hold onto that day nap as long as humanly possible) and googling sleep transitions, thinking that maybe our girl was ready to give up the day nap.
Here we are, more than a month later, and bedtime has moved to 7.00-7.30 and the day naps are back, but usually a little bit shorter (those occasional three-hour naps are sadly no longer). But, missy is still getting 13 hours of sleep a day, and she’s back to sleeping through the night. What’s changed? Well, missy can now lie down and relax. After getting rid of the dummy, missy lost the ability to zone out and calm down. We found that – even when she was bone tired – she would fidget and toss and turn, struggling to get herself calm enough to go to sleep. The result was a lot of cuddling and face-stroking from mum and dad.
Eventually, we went back to some old sleep training techniques. Closing the door and letting her cry for a minute, going back in, letting her cry for two minutes, going back in, etc. Often she’d fall asleep out of pure exhaustion. We also tried to teach her to count and breathe before going to sleep. I also gave her a hanky soaked in sleep-inducing essential oils – I was desperate, I’d give anything a try!
Maybe it all worked, or maybe it coincided with her learning to live without the dummy. All I can say is, there’s light at the end of the tunnel! So, if you’re about to embark on the dummy-cleanse, take a big breath – you can do it! It gets easier with time, it really does.
Next: Missy’s first sleepover