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The Ultimate Guide to Baby Dummies: Pros, Cons, and Tips for Weaning

Pros and cons of dummy use for babies and toddlers

A Guide on Baby Dummies, Their Benefits and Drawbacks for New Parents

In today’s blog, we are looking at the pros and cons of using dummies, and if you do choose to give one, how to discourage its use as your child grows up.

Many new parents buy dummies during pregnancy without knowing if baby will even use one. We sometimes assume that all babies will take to using a dummy, but that’s often not the case. Whilst some babies will take a dummy immediately, some might need a little bit of encouragement. If your baby does refuse one, sometimes you just need to have a bit of patience and keep offering it until they take it. Breastfed babies are generally more likely to refuse a dummy as they prefer the comfort of the breast rather than the feeling and taste of silicone, however with some perseverance they might get used to it. Both my girls never wanted one even though I tried so many different types and styles so I eventually gave up rather than forcing the issue.

Pros of Using a Dummy 

The Lullaby Trust points to research that shows dummies being used while a baby is sleeping could reduce the risk of SIDS. The reason for this is not clear, however, it has been agreed that there is good enough evidence to support the claim. One possible reason is the fact that a dummy prevents babies from rolling onto their front, and sucking on a dummy keeps the baby’s tongue forward, both of which lead to safer sleep. They also recommend giving a dummy once breastfeeding is established to prevent confusing newborns.

Dummies can help your baby self-soothe.
If your baby is frustrated, overtired, or crying, giving a dummy can provide them with a sense of security often calming the baby immediately.

Dummies can help babies fall asleep quicker.
Most babies find sucking a dummy or thumb soothing/comforting, which in turn will help them fall asleep more easily.

Cons of Using a Dummy 

Dummies can cause oral health issues.
The long-term use of dummies (much like thumb sucking) can affect a child’s oral health, for example, overbite, malocclusion, crossbite, and open bite.

Breastfeeding and dummy use.
Using a dummy before breastfeeding is established can interfere with breastfeeding and milk supply.

Dummies can increase the chance of a baby crying at night. 
Although we listed dummy use for aiding sleep as a pro, the opposite can also be true. A baby that is dependent on using a dummy to sleep can become quite upset if they wake up in the night without their dummy where it should be!

Language delay.
Dummies can affect language/speech development as your child will need to take the dummy out of their mouth to speak. If they are particularly attached to their soother/pacifier they might opt to keep their dummy in their mouth rather than speak, which in turn can affect the development of their speech. Therefore the recommendation by experts is to use a dummy as little as possible and for short periods. Try and opt for dummies with a flat teat (or orthodontic teat) which are considered kinder to the teeth and gums. Find our flat teat dummies here.

Dummy attachment – is it healthy? 
Your toddler might struggle to give up their dummy as they have probably used it since they were born, which is a big deal! Searching the internet you can find many research papers that look at the long-term implications of dummy use, so weaning your child off their dummy sooner rather than later is probably the best option.

We will look at some tried and tested tips on how to help your child break their dependency on dummies.

Giving up your dummy

Here are just a few ideas/hacks to help your child give up their dummy.

Go cold turkey.
This is the hardest option in the short-term and not for everyone. It can make your child very upset at first, but in a few short days, they will get used to not having one. Much like when you first stop breastfeeding, you should be prepared for lots of tears and sleepless nights for the first few days.

The dummy fairy.
I used to babysit a little girl and when it was time to take her dummy away I explained to her that she was a big girl that didn’t need her dummy any longer. Instead, that night the fairy was going to come to get her dummy and plant it in the forest to make beautiful flowers, and in exchange, she will receive a beautiful basket of gifts from her. That little girl went to bed with no dummy (and excited) and the next morning I had a basket full of lovely sensory toys and colouring books ready for her! She never asked for the dummy again, but of course, this doesn’t mean it will be this easy for all children but it’s worth a try. This isn’t all that dissimilar to The Switch Witch tradition we use at Halloween to help restrict the amount of sugary treats our little ones eat.

There are many books you can buy online or in your local bookshop that you can read to your toddler about not using a dummy. This option is more likely to work for older children who can easily understand the pros and cons of dummy use. 

Looking After Your Dummy – Proper Soother Hygiene

For babies 6 months and under you should always sterilise your dummies as often as possible. To find out the best way to do this always follow the instructions you find on the packaging or leaflet that were supplied with your dummy. Failing to follow the instructions can result in a damaged dummy that can put your child at risk.

How Often Should I Change Dummies?

You should change your child’s dummy every 4-6 weeks for hygiene and safety reasons. Make sure you inspect your dummy and teat regularly for any signs of damage, and if any is found, discard them immediately. Ensure the teat is secured to the dummy by pulling it outwards, upwards, and sideways, especially before naps and bedtime. Finally, always check that the dummies you buy follow the UK safety standards which should be clearly displayed on the packaging.


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