Ditch the Dummy – advice with gNappies
We put these questions to Nicola Lathey and Tracey Blake at smalltalktime who came back with the following excellent answers!
“Well hello gNappies community – thanks so much for asking us so many great questions about your babies. We’ve tried to answer them all below and we hope our advice is useful, Nicola and Tracey x”
Andy Fallows Hi. I have twins aged 18 months. How can I help them to communicate with the whole world, not just babble to each other? Thankyou.
It’s not uncommon for twins to have their own made up language – there are numerous Youtube clips showing this. The best thing to do is to have special talk time on a one to one level, with one twin getting all your attention at one time. Try this for just 10 minutes a day with each twin and use the Say What You See Strategy (see video below) and you should notice a difference fairly quickly.
Amy Ball We’ve never used a dummy but I have a finger sucker. It doesn’t seem to be causing any speech problems but has pushed his front teeth out a little. Is there an age when I should try to get him to stop? Or does it not matter?
From a speech and language point of view there’s no real need to worry. Thumb or finger suckers tend to remove their digits when they want to talk, where as dummy suckers will keep the dummy in their mouth, restricting the movement of their lips and tongue and hampering speech. The person to ask about his teeth is your dentist.
Tanya Barrow Is a dummy worse than thumb sucking? I was always told that thumbs were more harmful to teeth as they can “push” against the top ones and thumb sucking is a harder habit to break. Is that true?
See answer above, it’s not true – as a speech therapist I would much rather have a thumb sucker than a dummy sucker.
Donna Grose I was told with my eldest that his dummy was limiting his vocabulary, so we got rid of it when he was 2. But my youngest kept his dummy until 3 – he was a really bad sleeper and it was the only way we got a peaceful night. He just moved his dummy to the corner of his mouth and chattered away. When it comes to speech, how do you know it’s the dummy that’s the problem?
I’ve seen numerous children at my clinic The Owl Centre whose mouths have completely changed shape due to dummy sucking. I had one today – a dribbler with very poor clarity when he talked, whose mouth was almost static because he was so used to having a dummy plugged into it. Obviously some children only use a dummy for short periods, while others have it for hours and some suck much harder on a dummy than others, which will amplify the effects. My advice is to ditch the dummy before children are one year old. Check out our vlog below on this topic for more detail…
Marie Cully With our first we took her dummy away or rather she put it out for father Xmas when she was 3 1/2 after only having it for night and that resulted in her thumb going in her mouth so back to square 1! She’s now six and still sucking her thumb but only at night and when she has her bunny, my almost 2 year old has dummies now and I only give for night or when upset or tired, but I’m not going to take it away this time as don’t want another thumb sucker, I sucked my fingers until I was about 13 and have no probs with my teeth because of that and speech fine with my eldest.
Hi Marie, see my answers about finger sucking above. Another way of getting rid of the dummy is tinkering with the end. Use a sharp knife to pierce a tiny hole in the end and gradually over time make the hole bigger – this takes all the satisfaction away so it’s not so comforting to suck it, yet it’s not withdrawn completely causing crazy scenes.
- Jana Hill-Dyble My LO wanted nothing to do with a dummy until she was 18 months old, saw a friend with one, and now thinks it’s the best thing ever!? Toddler peer pressure? She speaks very well, but has an insane attachment to it. She even speaks clear enough with it in her mouth strangers understand… Do I throw them away and hope after a few days she forgets about them, or hope she outgrows it?
- Jenny Bath Oh, I so need to get onto this with Em but not sure I have the strength.
- Jim Radford Hi would love to know how to ditch the dummy-especially at bed time,our daughter is 16 months.
These are all similar so I am going to answer them together. Either try the technique I’ve recommended to Marie, above, where you pierce the end of the dummy, which is a more softly softy approach for parents who are on the edge. Or, my preferred option is always to go cold turkey and endure a few days of crying but then it’s over. Try the tips the other parents have mentioned on this forum which are all great – giving away the dummy to a little baby, tying it on to a tree for the dummy fairy etc. Just don’t give in or you’ll be back to square one! It’s natural to fear any change when you have small children – especially given that dummies often relate to sleep – but in my experience the thought is always worse than the reality and it’s never as bad as parents fear. One of my friends spoke a lot about the dummy fairy to her 3-yro in the run up to wanting him to ditch it, continuously asking, ‘Shall we give your dummy to the dummy fairy tonight?’ One night, after 6 weeks of asking, he suddenly said yes. Cue a mad dash out to buy a toy to leave on his pillow!
Nathalie Ringenbach We keep dummies just for bed or traveling so really limited problems with speech, more worried about bacteria if kept in mouth all night… Can that be the case?
Sorry, I don’t know Nathalie! Perhaps run this one by your dentist.
Chris Mosler How do you encourage a child to speak when their older sibling insists on doing all the talking for them?
Oo, what a great question. I hear this so often! In my experience this is particularly prevalent where there’s an older sister and a little brother. You need to make sure that you are giving your younger one one-to-one time for at least 10mins every day, using the Say What You See Techniques – see vlog on this above. Also try to work on general turn taking games – you might try something like singing Twinkle Twinkle where everyone sings one line from the song and then it’s the next person’s turn. You could also try a ‘talking Ted’ game, where you can only talk if you’re holding the Teddy. Persist with encouraging their waiting and turn taking and hopefully soon it will kick in without promoting, although it’ll never completely disappear because those bossy older ones just can’t help themselves! That’s why 10 mins of Small Talk Time is so important as it gives your little one free reign to chat as much as they like, uninterrupted.
Ali Clifford funnily enough we were talking about this today Carissa! – we want to know what’s the BEST age to ditch the dummy Nicola?
Between 8-12 months is the general advice, which is when babies start using meaningful babble. Good luck with ditching the blessed thing! Thanks for tuning in and please like and subscribe to the Small Talk YouTube Channel for friendly talking tips to get your cheeky monkey chatting…