Babies and dummies  – the big question is, should i use a dummy?

Like most other parenting choices, everyone has an opinion and whether you use a dummy doesn’t escape judgement—people either love ’em or hate ’em.

I meet lots of parents that are disappointed their child doesn’t want to use a dummy, and on the flip side, others regret ever starting. They definitely have their advantages and disadvantages. I’ve listed some of these below, with some handy links to help you make an informed decision that suits your family—coz that’s what it’s all about right? Making a decision that’s right for YOU.

Should I use a dummy 

Should I use a dummy  – PROS

  • Non-nutrient (dummy) sucking can really help soothe and/or settle an upset baby, especially little babies with reflux.
  • Can help a premature baby create a stronger sucking reflex.
  • It is easier to get rid of the dummy than a thumb.
  • Some research suggests it lowers the SIDS risk, however, there is insufficient evidence to actively encourage dummy use as a risk-reduction strategy at the present time.

Should I use a dummy – CONS

  • Can negatively impact breastfeeding, due to nipple confusion or as a result of the baby being given a dummy to suck instead of a breast feed.
  • Can cause disturbed sleep for baby and parents. Babies often fall asleep quickly but then experience frequent night wakings, needing the dummy put back in.
  • Can be upsetting for a child (and the parent!) to get rid of.
  • A higher incidence of respiratory, ear and gastrointestinal infections, accidents and dental malocclusion.

For further reading and evidence on dummy use please click here: https://rednose.com.au/downloads/Using_a_Dummy_or_Pacifier_Information_Statement.pdf

Wanting to use a dummy with your bub?

Ok, so you’ve made the decision to use a dummy. Find one your child likes and I suggest you buy a LOT of them. The last thing you need is to lose the dummy they love and then find you can’t buy them anymore! This happens! (there are a gazillion different types).  In my experience, babies aren’t able to wake in the night, find their own dummy and re-plug it themselves until around 9 months, so you’ll need to be prepared to be the ‘dummy re-plugger’ until such time.

Safety if you use a dummy

As my good friend Sammy says, “Safety never takes a day off”. Here are some tips to keep things safe:

  • Keep dummys clean and sterilised.
  • Check them regularly to make sure they are intact and not breaking, especially once your child has toothy pegs.
  • Never force your baby to take one, as some babies just don’t like them.
  • ALWAYS consider your baby’s reason for crying before giving the dummy – are they hungry or in pain?

Steps to teach them to re-plug their own dummy (usually around 9 months)

  1. Put a few in the cot (maybe 4-5). You can buy and connect them to a comforter, which can make life easier. Click link below to purchase http://sleepytotaustralia.com.au
  2. When you put your baby to bed, put their hand onto the dummy. Then guide the dummy into their mouth.
  3. Every time you have to replace the dummy, make sure you put your baby’s hand onto the dummy. Then guide the dummy into their mouth, making sure they keep a hand on it.
  4. Over time, they will automatically start to do this themselves.

AAAAAAAND FINALLY …… How to get rid of the dummy when the time comes!

Easiest way with a small baby = cold turkey. It’s a bit cruel to take it away and then not give anything to help them so I always recommend staying with them and offering some hands-on support while they figure out a new way of soothing, or if they’re old enough then a comforter can be a useful transitional object. If you have an older child, there are some trusty little ceremonies or rituals you can carry out to farewell the much-loved dummy. Some little people like to write a letter to the magical Dummy Fairy and leave them all in a box at the end of their bed; when they wake in the morning the Dummy Fairy has taken the dummys and left something really cool for them instead. If your little one does use a dummy, there will come a time when it needs to go. I have helped many little folk give up the dummy over the years (it can become quite the addiction!) and the thought alone is often a MILLION times worse than when you actually do it. They adjust pretty quickly!

“Whatever method you choose to get rid of the dummy, make sure you get rid of EVERY LAST DUMMY in the house!”

Contact Jodie –  a baby sleep consultant for more information.

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