Sleeping FAQ: 6-9 months – Settling/Sleep Associations

My 8.5mth son has used a dummy to settle back to sleep. I now want to get rid of it but am not sure how to do this without him losing a lot of sleep especially at nap times

My son is now 8.5 months old and despite following the routines as strictly as possible, he has never quite settled into the proper routine. I can almost get him there, but for instance he has never slept longer than 1.5 hours at lunchtime, and still wakes several times in the night. He is always up by 7am, follows the feeding guide exactly – and eats well – and settles well at 6.45pm, but I think this is because he is very tired by then. My daughter, who is now 4, was a very contented baby and followed the routines perfectly, slept through from about 11 weeks.
In order to try to keep to the sleep and nap times, I have ended up giving my son a dummy and I think he is now reliant on it to get to sleep. He will go back to sleep in the night with it, without feeding. I haven’t fed him milk in the night since before Christmas and am convinced it’s not hunger that’s the problem.

My question really is this: I want to get rid of the dummy but I know it’s going to be very difficult, I’m prepared for the controlled crying and persevering, but how much do I sacrifice the nap times, especially during the day, as I think everything will slip as he is a very determined baby and can cry for a long time in his cot – hence the gradual increased use of the dummy in the first place!

He feeds at 7am. 2oz formula mixed with baby muesli/ Ready Brek/ Weetabix and fruit puree. 4ozs formula after solids.
10am 1oz water
11.45am chicken casserole/lamb hotpot/fish pie all served with finger vegetables, well diluted juice form beaker.
2.45pm 4ozs formula
5.00pm pasta and sauce, corn chowder or mixed root medley form the Weaning book. Rice cake or toast as finger food. Small drink of water.
6.30pm 6ozs formula

My son naps at 9.15-10am, 12.45-2.00pm and settles at 6.45pm.

The best way to get rid of a dummy at this age is to do so gradually so that the effect on daytime sleepis not so great.

You need to get your son checked over by your doctor before starting any controlled crying. It is important that you start this programme when your son is well and not still recovering from any coughs or colds.

Start with eliminating the dummy at the morning nap, if he uses it at this time of day. Do this for two days but let him have it at all other naps and sleep times.

The next nap from which to eliminate the dummy is the lunchtime one. To help this be less stressful, and to ensure he does sleep for most of the time, take him out in his pram for this nap. Do this for at least two consecutive days. This may not be so easy if you have an older child so arrange the days to fall at the weekend when you may be able to have your partner around to help you cope.

Once he has stopped having the dummy during the day you can stop offering it at night.

Before you begin, read through the instructions for controlled crying, on page 45 of The Complete Sleep Guide, so you are quite clear about how to lengthen the timings over consecutive days.

It is obvious that your son may be more demanding and clingy whilst he is going through this process so do make sure you have as much help as you can get with your other child.