Who knew there would be so many things to consider when you become a parent! It’s natural for all of us to want to do the right thing when it comes to our children, but sometimes it’s not easy knowing exactly what the right thing to do is! Especially when the world wide web yields so many different viewpoints! It seems ironic dummies are also known as pacifiers and soothers because they sure can ruffle a few feathers at times!
There has been some evidence to suggest using dummies could cut the number of baby deaths in relation to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. However, the advice also is, if your baby does not want a dummy, you should not force them to have one as there isn’t any evidence to suggest not having one is harmful. Traditionally opponents of dummies cited they interfered with the development of children’s teeth and prevented the establishment of breastfeeding techniques in those vital early weeks. Recent research carried out in the US however, suggests dummies can actual aid breastfeeding, but no one yet can tell why this might be the case! So there you go....
If you are considering introducing a dummy take a look at these pros and cons:-
On the plus side!
The truth is a lot of parents find a dummy really can help to soothe a fretful baby. This is because babies are born with a sucking reflex which helps to reduce stress and soothes the baby back to sleep. Young babies aren’t able to soothe themselves in other ways until they are a little older.
A dummy can help calm a fretful baby, take their mind off what temporarily might have become a stressful moment for them ( they are feeling tired or getting an injection for example)
Sucking on a dummy may help ease the pain of teething and once your baby has teeth the extra salive produced when sucking on the dummy csan help combat plaque build up.
Using a dummy is considered preferable to sucking thumbs, as this habit has been linked to dental problems later on. It’s obviously easier to break the dummy habit than a thumb sucking one. How many times have you heard the saying, you can take away a dummy, but not a thumb?!
And those against say....
The current advice is to avoid using a dummy prior to your baby reaching six weeks old, as it can prevent them from developing an effective sucking mechanism during breast feeding, which can then interfere with the production of a good supply of breast milk, in those early stages.
Dummies used by children over a year old can interfere with speech development, as some children may not have had the same opportunity to babble as much as those who have not used a dummy.
Your own sleep might be more interrupted if your baby keeps waking up due to the dummy falling out of their mouths when they are asleep and you need to keep getting up to put it back.
Using a dummy for long period of time has been linked to repeated ear infections in babies
Prolonged use of a dummy can interfere with the growth of your baby’s teeth. It is more likely to cause this problem if your child is over two and still using a dummy, with the worst problems occurring in children over four. The same goes for thumb sucking.
If you do decide to use a dummy, here is a round up of do’s and don’ts
Don’t use the dummy for long periods, limit to sleep times or if your baby is really unsettled.
Don’t wait too long before you try and wean your baby off using the dummy. You should ideally start reducing the times they need it by the time they have reached six months old and certainly by the time they are a year old.
Don’t allow dummy sucking to become just a habit.
Do remove the dummy before meal times
Do encourage your baby to “talk” and remove the dummy.
Don’t ever dip the dummy in to something sweet and give it to your baby, as this can lead to tooth decay.
Do try other ways of soothing your baby if you are trying to wean them off using a dummy. For example, read or play together or offer them a cuddle instead.
Do keep your baby’s dummy clean. You need to clean and sterilise them in the same way you would their bottle teats. Always check to see if the dummy has become cracked and damaged and if it has, then throw it away.
What will you decide to do? Have you used a dummy with one child and not another? What tips can you share for weaning a baby off their dummy? Do you think dummies get bad press and are a much maligned and necessary soothing aid?
+ Please note this is intended as a useful guide to the topic of dummies and is not intended to be taken as professional advice. Please always refer to your GP or health visitor regarding queries and concerns about your baby.