Also published on Mothers of Preschoolers (MOPS), Lollipops in the Garden.
"Mama, look! Lollipops are growing in the garden!" said excited Little Person with a big imagination. The look of awe on our toddler's face when he saw his favorite treat in bloom and in place of where his dummy had been planted, will always be a magical memory.
There are many ways of getting rid of the dummy (or pacifier), including weaning it off slowly, calling upon the dummy "fairy" to take it, or simply saying "goodbye" to it. I learned of another creative approach to completely ditch the dummy; planting it! Since digging is one of our son’s favorite things to do, this approach was fun, imaginative, gentle and meaningful.
As a parent, you are best placed to decide on the right time for your child to transition to a time without dummy. Experts suggest a good time to try is when there is not much change happening in the household; your child is feeling settled and has transitioned from using the dummy all day to only using it to soothe to sleep, and has an alternative favorite comforter or soft toy to soothe to sleep.
Our son only used his dummy to soothe himself to sleep. When he was a little over 2 years old, we started to tell him how big he was growing and how he wouldn't need his dummy by the time he turned 3. So, it was a great parenting win to see him "grow" away from the dummy sooner with the help of "magic" and Mother Nature!
On the morning of planting his dummy, I explained to our son that today he would be saying "goodbye" to his dummy by planting it in the garden. I told him that when he woke from his nap, something special would have grown in its place.
Before nap time, I helped our son dig a hole in the garden, filled it with his dummy, and watered the dirt. When he settled down for his nap, I ensured he had his favorite comforter to snuggle with to sleep. When he called for his dummy, I reminded him that he had planted it and it would be growing into a surprise by now.
While he was sleeping, I dug out the dummy from the dirt and replaced it with a lollipop. (TIP: you can replace the dummy with another edible treat or a special gift, such as a colorful windmill.) When he woke, I ran to the garden with him and marveled at the magic of nature. He saw his favorite treat in bloom in place of where his dummy had been planted!
While he enjoyed his treat, we connected over how special it was for his much-loved dummy to transform into something he loved. At night time, I ensured he had his favorite comforter to snuggle with to sleep. When he asked for his dummy, I recounted his experience of it growing into something special. I reminded him that his treat was now snug in his tummy. And a magical moment was planted in his memory forever.
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