This method is best suited for a young infant (under 6 mos).
...here is how I gradually weaned Matthew off the soother. A little background: when Matthew was 8 weeks old, we were having a lot of difficulty at night which we attributed to his newfound soother addiction. He would fall asleep using the soother, and then wake up throughout the night, wanting to be “plugged” back in. I was getting really concerned and anxious over this, so I had a consult with Tracy and here is her suggestion for gradual weaning from the soother. Since you already have her book, I won’t go into the stages of falling asleep.
The idea behind this is that you are helping them to relax with the soother, but teaching them to fall asleep without. So, using the soother, allow your little one to suck while she passes through the first stage of sleep, then during the second stage of falling asleep, remove the soother between sucks (when there is a pause). If she becomes agitated, replace the soother and then repeat through stages 1 and remove during the second stage of falling asleep. Sometimes if it’s removed in the third stage, then the little one will jolt awake. What will eventually happen (you may find you will be replacing and removing over and over at first), is that she will associate the soother with relaxing and when you remove it during stage 2, she will continue to fall asleep.
Also, try not to rush to use the soother whenever she is upset. Try other methods of calming and consider the soother as a last resort. It’s so much easier to “plug ‘em in,” but in the long run, it adds to the difficulty of later weaning off the soother.
When Matthew became used to only using the soother to relax, I changed things a little bit. Instead of allowing him to suck on the soother in his bed, I started to hold him in the rocking chair, cuddling him with his security blanket, and letting him suck on the soother while we sat together. This was a new routine, and my idea was that I would keep this routine and edit the soother part from the routine. I would cuddle him with his “blankie,” then let him suck on the soother as he passes through stage 1 and then remove between sucks during stage 2. Then I would put him into bed with his “blankie.” Eventually I edited the soother part from the routine and have kept the rest of the routine. So, he is going into his bed awake, with his blanket, which we have nicknamed “blankie.”
Matthew was officially “weaned” off the soother by 5 months. That’s when I stopped bringing it with me. I found that by then, he and I were so used to calming down in other ways, and he had developed his own way to self-soothe. I tossed that soother in the garbage and never looked back. What I have described is a very gradual weaning, because I started it when he was 8 weeks old. When he started to suck on his hands, I was more progressive with reducing the soother use. The biggest part it not to rely so heavily on soother use throughout the day.
I hope this isn’t confusing and it gives you some direction. Every situation and baby is different, so what worked for me may not pertain to others. But nevertheless, good luck!