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Teaching dummy independence

8-18 months

Getting up to replace your baby’s lost dummy at night can be very tiring. But here’s some good news – from around eight months, most babies can learn to manage their own dummies during the night. This is called dummy independence.

Using the dummy independently

From eight months of age, most babies can learn to put their own dummy in. This can be good if your baby needs a dummy to fall asleep, or needs your help to replace the dummy when it falls out during the night.

Here’s how to help your baby manage his own dummy:

  1. When you put your baby to bed, put her hand onto the dummy. Then guide the dummy into her mouth.
  2. Every time you have to replace the dummy, make sure you put your baby’s hand onto the dummy. Then guide the dummy into his mouth, making sure he keeps a hand on it.

It can take 3-4 nights or longer for babies to learn how to put the dummy back by themselves.

Giving up the dummy

If your child depends on the dummy to settle and sleep, another option is to help your child give up the dummy altogether.

One good way to phase out the dummy is to gradually use it less and less when re-settling your baby during the night. For example, give the dummy to your baby every second time he cries in the night on day two, then every third time on day three, and so on.

Try using the dummy less for comforting during the day. This will help this process go faster.

For tips on setting up a positive bedtime and helping your baby settle without a dummy, see our article on changing your baby’s sleep pattern.

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Raising Children Network is supported by the Australian Government. Member organisations are the Parenting Research Centre and the Murdoch Childrens Research Institute with The Royal Children’s Hospital Centre for Community Child Health.

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