Dummies. They can be a double edged sword. They are a godsend for helping your baby settle, but an absolute nightmare if they constantly lose them in the night.
You exchange getting up to settle your baby for getting up to put their dummy back in. Your sleep is still interrupted.
If your baby is 6 months or older and having dummy finding issues, then you are in the right place! Let me guess, you are constantly having to get up in the middle of the night to pop their dummy back in, only to have it fall out again the second you have snuggled back into bed.
If this sounds like you, then we have compiled some really great tips on managing the midnight dummy runs and how to teach your baby to find it on their own.
5 Steps To Managing The Midnight Dummy Runs
Step One - Introduce & attach their Dummy to a Comfort Blanket
The first step to helping your baby find their dummy is to introduce a comfort blanket that you can fix their dummy to. My favourites are the soft and snuggly Cuski which you can tie your baby’s dummy to the end of and the Sleepytot bunny which has four velcro corners to attach dummies to. Alternatively there is the Gobstopperz, a plush tacticle soother companion to help keep your baby's dummy securely attached.
Step Two - Familiarise Your Baby With the Dummy Comforter
Once you have chosen a comfort blanket, you need to introduce it to your baby and teach them how to find it at night. I recently wrote a whole blog on this very topic, so for some more in depth reading on introducing a comfort blanket, you can go HERE.
At 6 months of age, most baby’s hand-eye coordination, dexterity and fine motor skills are developed enough to be able to retrieve objects in their cot. They will also be able to use their palmar grasp to grab it. Potentially, they will be rolling too, making it easier to find and grab the comforter.
Step Three - Place Dummy Near Baby’s Mouth
When it comes to naptime or bedtime, try and avoid plugging the dummy into their mouth as this means you are doing the hard work for them. Instead, you want to make it a little bit harder for them so they start to connect that the dummy is attached to the toy.
My suggestion is to pop the comfort toy across their face, near their mouth. That way, if they were to turn their head, they will feel it and see it. The next step is for them to learn that in order to get the dummy into their mouth they have to find and pick up the comfort blanket.
If that is a bit too challenging for your baby at this stage, then you can ease into the dummy finding. When they are lying in their cot, dangle the dummy over their head so they can see it above them, can reach up to grab it and pop it into their mouth.
Step Four - Place the Dummy Comforter Over Their Shoulder or Above Their Head
Once your baby is used to having the dummy comforter near their head and they are starting to learn their dummy is attached to the comfort blanket, then you can make it more difficult for them. Rather than putting the dummy comforter on their shoulder, you can put it above their head, slightly out of reach. That way, they have to learn to reach up, feel for it and grab it.
Step Five - Waiting...
The same applies for night time wakings. If you are getting up in the night, rather than rushing in straight away to find the dummy, give them a minute or two to try and locate it in the cot. If they can’t locate it, don’t pop the dummy straight back into their mouth. Instead, find the comfort blanket and rest it near their face so they feel the sensation of it on their skin and learn to grab it to pop the dummy into their mouth.
The more dummies you have on the comfort blanket, the more likely your baby will find their dummy in the night. If you practice this for about a week you should find that your baby will be able to successfully locate their dummy in the cot and will not need you to get up and do it for them.
These steps should help you ditch the midnight dummy runs for good. But if you need help or advice on the process, feel free to get in touch with me here at Serene Sleep.