Tuesday Tips: The Dummy Fairy

Marlow sleeping with dummy

The ‘Dummy Fairy’ came to our house last week and flew off with all of Marlow’s dummies! And just like that our baby became a ‘big girl’ (no more bottles, no more nappies, no more dummies!). Marlow went to bed that evening telling all of us that she’s a big girl now — she hopped into bed, fell asleep quickly and hasn’t asked about her dummies ever since! Indeed, a very big girl (sob!).

All four of our babies used dummies, so this is the fourth time the Dummy Fairy has visited our house, and in all four cases I was surprised by how easy a transition it was. I think it’s one of those things that we build up in our minds to be worse than it really is: we worry how they’ll ever fall asleep, that it will mess up their good sleep habits, we worry they will cry for hours and become very unsettled or that they’ll find another emotional attachment to replace the dummies, etc. As with any big transition, whether it’s sleep training, potty-training, weaning, or taking bottles away, I think it must be very natural for mothers to overthink and dread it, but in my experience I’ve found that it’s almost always easier than we anticipate it will be. Perhaps it’s actually us mothers who aren’t really ready? (Although in our case it’s definitely Michael who is the bigger softie. I think he would have let Marlow keep her dummies well into her teenage years! Ha!)

Because it’s fresh in my mind, I thought I would share some simple tips for taking away dummies (or bottles, even) and making it a smooth and easy transition. NB: we’ve always gone down the Dummy Fairy route, but there are other ways too that don’t involve a fictional fairy (like the concept of the ‘dummy tree‘ in Denmark and Sweden, or the idea of ‘giving’ dummies to another baby who needs them more, or Esther’s idea of leaving the dummies in the Christmas tree and asking Santa to replace them with gifts!). Here are my tips:

  • I think the most important thing is to get your child excited about the idea and to be really honest and direct with them. Start casually talking about the dummy fairy (or dummy tree, etc.) and mention that they’re getting so big and don’t really need a dummy anymore. Be really positive about it — make them feel like it’s a really cool thing to be too big for dummies! You can even discuss the benefits of being so big — like eating with the ‘grown up’ cutlery, choosing their own outfits, sitting in big chairs, eating without a bib… whatever it is!
  • If you have bigger kids, start talking to them about it too. Get their support in encouraging the little one.
  • Think about timing: don’t do it during any other transitional period, or if they’re sick, or if you’re traveling or if you have visitors in town, etc. (I always like to do these sorts of things on weekends when I know I have my husband home and we can do it together and when our sleep schedules are more relaxed.)
  • Talk to your child about the dummy fairy. Discuss that you’ll be giving away ALL of the dummies and won’t get them back. Write a card/draw a picture for the dummy fairy together (we usually write something like ‘Dear Dummy Fairy, please come and collect my dummies. I’m so big now – I don’t need them anymore!’).
  • Collect all the dummies in the house (don’t forget any strays!) and stick them in a paper bag with the card. Stick it somewhere special for the fairy to find (we hung ours on our front door) and hope the dummy fair comes to collect them (this is where the husband comes in handy).
  • In our case, the dummy fairy collects the dummies and leaves behind a small gift and a note saying how proud she is. I’ve found that giving a cuddly toy or something they can take to bed with them is a good idea because it gets them excited to go to bed and distracts them from the missing dummies — it also offers them something to grab for in the night if they wake and would normally reach for their dummy. (Although the boys got Schleich animals from the dummy fairy, and it really didn’t matter that it wasn’t so cuddly. : ))
  • Don’t make too big of a fuss about it — try to be very straightforward. Put them to bed as usual without mentioning the dummies, kiss them goodnight and walk out of the room. If they ask for their dummy, just remind them that the dummy fairy took them away because they’re a big girl/boy now. I think the key is to be firm on your decision, don’t wobble or doubt yourself. Ivy was the only one of my kids who asked for her dummy as I walked out of the door. She had a bit of a restless first night, but was fine by the second night.

That’s it! I really have found this transition to be a pretty seamless one, but perhaps we’ve just been lucky. I’d love to hear your experience with this and any tips you have to share.

Courtney x

p.s. We usually took away the dummies when the kids were between two and three. We also had a rule that dummies were for sleeping only, so they weren’t allowed out of their beds.


Comments (9)

March 31, 2015

Well done Marlow! I did the same with my 3 (they’re triplets) and i think i was dreading it more than them like you said! But we put them in a bag on Christmas Eve for Santa to collect and give to all the small babies that needed them, they then had a little something for donating them! I was also surprised at the transition, but i do agree that the timing has to be right, our were just 3.

March 31, 2015

My daughter is one and she uses a dummy. I will certainly keep these tips in a safe spot for later.
Do any of you have experience with thumb-suckers? My son is three and I read to avoid severe jaw deformations it is recommended to stop latest between 4 and 5. I cannot take his thumb away and he did not care about the bitter stuff from the pharmacy.

March 31, 2015

Aww great news! I saw your IG post last week — glad to hear the “Dummy Fairy” was a success! We’ve been slowly weaning our youngest (almost 2) off the paci aside from naps and bedtime. I’m not sure she would understand the fairy idea just yet so it’s definitely in my back pocket for a few months down the road. I love how it brings a little excitement and magic to such a sweet milestone. Loved the additional tips too! The Santa scenario worked perfectly for a friend. It’s so comforting to be able to exchange tips and ideas with other mothers, near and far. Thanks, as always! xx

March 31, 2015

I couldn’t agree more … with our daughter I fretted about giving up the paci more than I really needed to! Our plan of attack was slightly different, although still successful 🙂

We gathered all the pacis in a little bag, and took them to our favorite local children’s store. I told our daughter that she could pick any lovey (stuffed animal) she’d like and we would pay for them with the pacis. While she was searching, I gave the clerk a headsup and my credit card 🙂 Once she found her new lovey, a small fox stuffed animal, she was so proud to ‘buy’ it all on her own that she handed over the bag of pacis as payment and never looked back!

I plan on going this route with our son when he gets to the age of dropping the paci habit 🙂

Great post, as always!

March 31, 2015

Hi Courtney, I love your page ♥♥
I always see that your boys and girls take a bath together, do u think that is okay that boys and girls take a bath together? thanks 🙂

Courtney in London
April 1, 2015

Hi Claire,
Thanks for the lovely feedback and the question.
YES! I absolutely think it’s okay for girls and boys to bathe together. Especially when they are young (mine are all under ten, and I’ve never thought twice about putting them in the bath together).
There is nothing weird or shameful or sexual about a child’s body, and I personally think it would be weird to bathe them separately, almost like it would be creating an issue where there isn’t one.
But this is just my opinion! Please do whatever feels comfortable to you.

Robin W
April 1, 2015

Thanks for this! You are right. I have been totally dreading this transition. One of my twins sucks her thumb, but the other uses a dummy and is still very attached to it at age 2 1/2. I’ve been thinking that since they will start two mornings a week of preschool in August, once we are a couple of months into that and they are used to school, I will use that a transition point. Like, you are such a big girl, going to school now, you won’t need your dummy anymore! Thanks for the encouragement not to dread it!

April 3, 2015

We were advised to take the dummy away before he turned one. If we didn’t, we were told, he would become attached to it and it would be much more difficult to take it away for the next two years (until fairies and such concepts are understood). So I read somewhere that if you take a pin and make a hole it removes the pleasure of sucking it. The hole started small and became progressively bigger. He lost interest and it worked a charm.

April 3, 2015

This is great! We have a one year old that doesn’t use a dummy, but she falls asleep – eats – goes for a walk – sits in a car seat … with a bottle. Not 100% of the time, but it’s enough that I feel nervous not having one while out in case she has a meltdown.

I want to transition to a sippy cup and no bottle at bed. And with her age, she’s too young to understand a bottle fairy. Any tips?


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