My whole purpose in guiding my kids to a sookie rather than a thumb was knowing I could take the sookie away. No small task. Some people look incredulously at the parent struggling to take the sookie away and say, "Just take it away from them". (as if we were just that stupid). These are the same people that will tell a struggling dieter to just eat less, a smoker to just not buy any more cigarrettes and a nail biter to just not bite their nails. It's a habit. It's not that easy to quit.
All of these habits can be broken and the sookie habit is no exception. It does take a little bit of time. First you have to make sure that your child has a transition or an alternate way of soothing themselves (or falling asleep). Loveys (a blankie or special soft toy) are great for this (provided your child takes to one - not all of them do). Singing is another great soother. So is cuddling and rocking. You know your child best, decide what works for you.
Then you have to start the weaning process. We started taking the sookie away during waking hours, bringing it back for nap time and bed time. Once our boy was awake, the sookie went away (well hidden). We did not let him see where we put the sookie (they will find it and take it if they can get it).
Then we started taking it away from nap time (this is trickier, but it can be done). Once nap time is successful, start working on bed time. I found I just tried putting him down for bed without it. If he really wasn't calming down, or settling to sleep, then I brought it out. Eventually it became unneccessary. Once it was unneccessary we just trashed them, never to return.
My youngest son (recently broken of the sookie habit) asked where it was. He was just fine when I said that the sookie was at daycare. At daycare, I told his daycare teacher we were taking him off it. She didn't give it to him that day and he napped just fine, so she trashed it the next day. After that when he asked where it was, I just told him, "Sousie gone". He wasn't happy about it, but he's going to sleep alright without it too.
Other parents I know have used slightly different techniques. One mother I know broke her son of the sookie at Christmastime, telling him that the elves needed his sookie to give to another little boy. They left the sookies out with Santa's milk and cookies that night, and they were gone the next morning. Another mother I know started snipping the sookie nipple down bit by bit until there was nothing left to suck on. 'Sookie broken', she told her son.
Whatever way you decide to go be patient with your kids. Most kids should start weaning from the sookie around age one and be done before they turn 3 at the latest. My first was 19 months when he stopped and my 2nd stopped shortly after his 2nd birthday. Prolonged sookie use can interfere with speech development, so make sure that your child either takes his sookie out to talk, or, doesn't have it during the daytime when his language skills start taking off (around 18 months). There's really no need for it at that time. They will be just fine without it.
What sookie removal tools have you used? I'd love to hear your ideas to share with other mamas.