Using Comforters and how to wean your child off them!
Many people enter parenthood rather optimistically, thinking that their child won’t need a comforter, only to find that they become pretty useful for tackling tired tantrums and separation anxiety.
Comforters can take many different forms from dummies to cuddly toys.
Really, there’s nothing wrong with comforters, a term given to anything from dummies and blankets to the toy they just can’t be without. As the name suggests, they provide comfort to a baby or young child.
The problem is when children become too attached to their comforters and this is why weaning is necessary. Here we’ll provide a few tips on how to use comforters effectively and how to wean your child off them, when the time comes for change.
Many children have some form of comforter between the ages of one and three years. Comforters are used to calm children when they are worried, afraid or tired. Whilst comforters can soothe children and help them to feel safe, perhaps when they are separated from you (either at night or in someone else’s care) they can become very attached to them.
By having some comforter ground rules at the very beginning, you will hopefully make it easier for yourself to wean your little one off their comforter at a later date.
Our first tip is to try and only use comforters for limited periods e.g. when they are at a child-minder’s or at bedtime. This will prevent your child from expecting to have their comforter around-the-clock.
Unless they have already become used to having a dummy (pacifier), we suggest choosing something like a blanket or a soft toy as your child’s comforter instead. These are often easier comforters to manage than pacifiers.
Weaning your child off their comforter
Limiting dummy time can help to wean your child off their comforter.
Timing is everything – The earlier you decide to remove your child’s comforter (whether a dummy or blanket), the easier it will be. From around 12 months onwards, your baby will become very strong-willed and reluctant to change, so you need a plan in place. Experts suggest that going ‘cold turkey’ i.e. simply taking away the comforter is more likely to work with a younger baby, whereas a toddler may require some sort of reward scheme, in place of their dummy or blanket.
Reducing comforter time – If you don’t feel you can take the comforter away from your child completely, you could always try gradually reducing the amount of time they use their comforter each day. This will get your child used to not having their comforter all of the time and eventually they will learn to cope without it.
Distractions are good – If you can sense that your child wants their dummy or blanket, try distracting them. Taking them out for a walk, playing with them and their toys or even just having a little singsong may help to take their mind off their craving.
Introduce the good old comforter fairy
One of the weaning techniques that we like the most and believe to be very effective is the comforter fairy (also known as the dummy fairy). This is an imaginary character that comes in use when tasked with taking your toddler’s favourite dummy or blanket away.
Just as the tooth fairy takes away children’s baby teeth and leaves a little treat, the comforter fairy takes away their blanket or dummy when they are asleep and replaces it with an exciting gift.
Many children are quite accepting and even excited about the comforter fairy, so this may be the first thing you want to try. Make the story of the comforter fairy interesting and exciting and your child is much more likely to be willing to give up their comforter.
Most importantly, don’t fret!
Ditching the dummy or comfort blanket isn’t always the easy of tasks but the key is to keep calm. There’s really no need to put yourself or your toddler under unnecessary pressure. Remember, your little one isn’t naughty for wanting their comforter – it’s just what they’re used to. When the time is right, you will be able to get them to give it up, so don’t fret.
Written by Carly Garrett