Soma Boodram trains health visitors and is a practising health visitor herself. She's been working with children for 25 years and is a mum of two.
Dummies are given to children by their parents as comforters, and they form a strong emotional attachment to them,' says Soma. Children can control them by reaching out for them whenever they want a bit of reassurance. They love that independence, which makes it harder to wean them off them. Persuading a toddler to give up her dummies can put an enormous strain on parents and their children.
Weaning from 12 to 18 months is ideal, because dummies can cause real problems with older children. They can push the palate of the mouth upwards, forcing the teeth out of line. Speech and language therapists are convinced that dummies can affect communication.
Weaning should be done gradually. Start with a simple explanation - just say that it's time to give up the dummy and why. It's so important to let your child know the plan. I've never known anyone fail to wean their toddler off a dummy. If you enjoy good communication with your child, you'll get there even faster.'
Ditch the dummy plan
Follow these 10 points for a dummy-free toddler
You won't wean a child off a dummy overnight. It's less stressful to take a couple of weeks so everyone can make that gradual adjustment. Start by explaining very simply, You're a big girl now. Dummies are for babies and smaller children.'
Make a deal
Agree not to use the dummy outside the house. Tell her: We're going to the shops. We've agreed to no dummy, so we'll take a toy instead.' If she throws a tantrum in the supermarket, stay calm and remind her of the deal. Once she's used to not using a dummy outside the house, you can start to limit it at other times, too.
Don't feel guilty
Remember, when you're trying to change your child's behaviour, it always gets worse before it gets better. Don't start feeling guilty - you're not depriving your child of love and cuddles.
Keep a small box in your pocket, filled with small toys, leaves and other interesting objects. When she demands her dummy, say, "What's in my box?" Change the contents to keep her interest.
Don't give in - set a boundary and stick to it. If you're on the phone when she demands her dummy, tell her you'll deal with her in a minute, then distract her with the magic box'.
No sweet treats
If you simply offer sweets or food when your child wants a dummy, you are weaning her off one habit onto another. Food should never be used as a reward system.
Dummies are such loveable things, and children often personalise them with a special name. Drop the nickname to remove the closeness and connection that your child has with her dummy.
Give it away
A formal giving away' ceremony gives your child the responsibility of letting go. She can hand it to a newborn baby or give it to the dustman to throw away.
Use star charts
Reward her for a dummy-free morning or shopping trip with a sticker on a chart. Offer her rewards such as a ride on a train once she's collected three no-dummy stickers.
You will need support as well as your child as you both go through the weaning process. Tell family, friends and nursery staff what you're doing, so everyone knows the plan and no one gives way.