Dummy Removal success from a 3 year old and 8 month old(1 Post)
I've never posted on a forum before, but thought I'd share my experience of dummy removal as I was an anxious parent who trawled the Internet looking for success stories and any clues on how to succeed in removing the blasted things.
I say blasted things as these were the bane of our lives for so long, many tears have been shed. We gave our first born a dummy as a relief from his early griping weeks, cursing the night get ups as it constantly fell out and he was too young to find it himself. At 8 months we were about to begin the battle of removing it but heard about the dummy bunny (a soft toy that holds 4 dummies in its paws), we were so tired and anxious about taking the dummy off him we took what seemed the easier option and bought one. Within a couple of weeks he worked out how to find it himself and hey presto no more crying out for someone to come and replace it.
But that was short lived as he started nursery and along came 8 months of cold, after cough, after cold, and once again we began cursing the dummy as the sleep association was so strong he couldn't be without it in his mouth at bedtime even if it meant he struggled to breath, so the night wakings continued.
We talked often from them on, "we really need to take it away!" "We need to set aside a free weekend as its gonna be hell" but always the fear of even less sleep meant we made excuses not to do it. In hindsight all this was ridiculous and we should of just done it, but you live and learn.
My wife became pregnant with our 2nd and dummy removal became less of a priority, by now our first was over 2 yrs old and night wakings were less frequent and manageable. Now it was just the worry of what impact the dummy was having on his teeth, 'was his slight lisp a result of him having a dummy!?'
We swore not to make the same mistake with our 2nd child.
Jump ahead 9 months and in some insane act we were popping a dummy into our new little girls mouth.
Now it may seem like we were gluttons for punishment, but at the time the reasons were sound. At 5 weeks our little girl was griping so much in the evenings that it was excruciating to watch. She was exclusively breastfed and continually used my wife as a comforter. This began taking its toll on my wife physically and emotionally, so the dummy was a chance to take off some of that pressure, as my wife's wellbeing is just as important. Happy mother, happy baby.
The 2nd reason was we now had a sleeping 3yr old to consider too, having to cope with a sleep deprived cranky boy in the day as well as a newborn was too much to handle. So the dummy played another role in keeping her quiet so as not to disturb him.
Now in every way our little girl is a far easier baby to raise than our boy was. Our boy from the get go was always frustrated and unsettled, never sitting still, wriggling and writhing, always wanting to do. In comparison our girl is placid and settled, happy to watch the world go by from the comfort of your knee. This easy manner didn't extend to the evenings and the wake ups for the dummy were far greater than they were the first time round. Where we were originally jumping out of bed 10 times a night for our boy, it was now 20 for our girl, add to that the extra night attention for our 3yr old who was now woken by her calls, and it made for truly horrendous nights.
We were at breaking point and something had to be done, this is how it went.
First we tackled our 3 yr old. We had been preparing him for this for a couple of months. We had bought him a picture book called 'Ben gives up his dummy' which we read a few times a week. In it a boy gives his dummies to the dummy fairy in exchange for a present. Christmas was nearing and the obvious thing would be to say 'let's give them to Santa' but the thought of attempting the removal in the family filled holidays filled us with dread. We decided the Easter bunny would pay an early visit in the new year to take them in exchange for a gift of his choice, turns out a 'spiderman' costume was the price he set.
And so with the expectation of an all out cry fest, we tried to set aside a weekend where we had no plans, as we imagined it to be utterly exhausting.
Finally after a few weeks we had chosen a Friday to begin. Our boy willingly placed his dummies into a brown envelope and left them on his stairs with the hope that there will be a present in its place in the morning. And to our surprise he fell asleep with no fuss, and not only that, he slept straight through the night without incident!
We were amazed, what we had built up in our heads to be this insurmountable issue resolved itself without a single tear shed. The Easter bunny had left him his present and a chocolate egg which he devoured as spiderman at 7.30 in the morning. We didn't care, we were relieved and proud. He only asked for his dummies once more that lunchtime in which we just shrugged and said 'no, the Easter bunny has taken them' to which he replied with a defeated 'awwww'
We felt foolish for not having done this sooner, but I believe that being 3 yrs old had given him a greater understanding of what needed to happen and what he was to gain. Something I don't think he would of had at the age of 2.
With our new found confidence from this success we set our sights on our then 6 month old daughter. We new this wasn't going to be as easy, and a couple of months rolled by in which we tried a 'no cry' dummy removal method. This involved hovering by your settling child and just as she's on the verge of sleep, whipping out the dummy. A process that was relatively easy in the early eve, but at 3am in the dark, exhausted, trying to decide if the moment was right to remove it, only for her to let you know it well and truly wasn't! It was impossible to maintain consistency when we were so tired to begin with, so after a week we gave up.
Her many night wakings continued unabated, and the anxiety and stress over how to get it done grew. We tried to not give her the dummy for naps in the car or in the pram, after a little fussing she could fall asleep with just the motion most times, so we knew she had it in her to self settle.
We were into the last month of my wife's maternity and knew we had to have this sorted before she returned to work, but we were fast running out of free weekends. Then after one terrible Monday night of wakings, I'd had enough, it was going to be done that evening. Sod waiting for the weekend, that dummy was going.
For consistency we decided that I would see through the controlled crying from beginning to end, my wife could pop in her earplugs and i would only wake her up when it was time for a feed.
During the day my wife refused our daughter dummies for her naps and ensured she was really tired for bedtime.
And just so we knew there was no going back, the dummies went in the bin.
The evening began well, our daughter was so exhausted she fell asleep without a dummy with only 7 mins of crying. I just put her down and left the room.
I had decided I would only pick her up for a feed from this point on, or if she became really hysterical.
She slept for 2 hrs then woke crying. I waited 5 mins before going in. She cried for an hour with me attempting to settle her by laying my hand on her chest or tapping her back when she rolled on her side. Eventually she fell back asleep. I crept out her room and tried to get some sleep on the couch.
She woke another 9 times that night, but always settled within 20 mins. Sometimes with me tapping her back, or if that irritated her, just laying my hand at her side as she held my finger. We chose to give her a feed if she woke between 2 and 4.
It was about 4am, sat by her cot in the dark, that I realised my error. I had gone about this the wrong way, instead of teaching her to self settle, I had replaced the dummy with me. I'd have to rethink my strategy for the following evening. But at least the dummy was gone, she'd managed a night without it and stayed in the cot, it was a step in the right direction.
I had managed some sleep in between the wakings, which was more than I thought I was gonna get. So at work the next day, a lil tired, out came the Gina Ford book to work out how to proceed with night 2.
Now that the dummy was now and truly gone, the next night was to teach her how to self settle. From her first crying I would wait five minutes before going to settle her. Again I wouldn't pick her up, just quietly shush her, she didn't like me tapping her anymore, she was wise to it now. But I'd always leave after 2 mins even if she was still crying. Then as Gina ford instructed, increasing the time before going back in by 2 mins.
It was a similar night to the first, roughly the same amount of wakings. A couple that lasted 45 mins, but most were 20 mins and under. Again she fed at 3am.
It felt like little progress had been made from the previous night, and I was pessimistic that we could have this sorted in the proposed 3 night window. But as I was still managing to get snippets of sleep I wasn't too concerned if it went on a couple more nights.
Then came the third night...
She cried for 20 mins when we put her down at 7pm. She woke once at 2.30 ish for a feed, then slept again until 6.30!
And again the next night.
She'd cracked it!
All those months of stress and anxiety, those tears and arguments that only extreme tiredness bring, and ultimately it wasn't as bad as we had built it up to be. We're now a dummy free household. It's still not perfect, within a few days she got a terrible cold and her teeth were bothering her so we had to give comfort, but in comparison with what it was with the dummy, it's bliss.
If only we'd had the nerve to sort all this out sooner, even back to our first born, we might of had a couple of years good sleep under our belts, I might even of had more hair. But we did it! I'm proud of my wife and children. I've really waffled on in this post, I don't know who's gonna read it, if anyone. But if someone gets a lil hope out of it then it's been worth posting.
If you're thinking of doing it, just do it, take the plunge and don't look back. It's sunny on the other side.
One relieved, very proud father.
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