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The great dummy debate

The age old dummy debate is something that everyone seems to have an opinion on, whether they are a parent or not. Some see it as “common”, a lazy parent’s solution, whereas others see it as a moment’s peace and something to soothe their crying baby.

If you look into pros and cons of offering a dummy or pacifier, the internet will present you with a whole array of things to consider. pediatricians, parents, therapists, and dentists all offer their opinions. Pro dummy reasons include a reduction in Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) and helping babies soothe themselves. But there are also reasons against dummies, including nipple confusion for very young babies that haven’t established breastfeeding, parents mistakenly offering dummies instead of a feed and even pacifiers leading to delayed speech in toddlers.

I’ll admit, even before I had my baby, I knew I was anti-dummy. I didn’t want to put my boy in any habits that would be hard to break.
I didn’t want one of those toddlers that had a meltdown in public because he had lost his it somewhere and I didn’t want to be judged as a “bad parent”. No thank you!

Avar was born in October 2013 and for reasons that I won’t go into here, we moved on to formula feeding. He was a very content baby and fed like clockwork. However at four months old, he was still waking in the middle of the night for a feed, despite having more than his recommended amount of formula.
He was getting “rounder” by the day too. After a lot of deliberation, I decided to offer Avar a dummy if he woke in the middle of the night. If he went back to sleep, I knew he just needed something to soothe himself. If he was genuinely hungry, no dummy would keep him quiet!

It turns out it was just a soothing thing and four months on, we still only use it as a soother to help with sleeping. Of course there are times I want to just give it to him to get a moment’s peace and I have given into that urge a couple of times. But on the whole, Mr. D and I have stuck to our guns.

If you do decide to offer a dummy to your baby, then here are some guidelines to help you:
  • Find a dummy that is BPA free, has ventilation holes to permit air passage and ideally has an orthodontic, symmetrical nipple which will not disturb the natural development of baby’s palate, teeth and gums
  • Clean and sterilise the dummy, as you would any bottles
  • Check  it regularly for damage and replace it if necessary. Cracked nipples trap germs.Be strict with yourself in when you offer the dummy. Use it for soothing purposes only and not whenever your baby wants it
  • Never dip the dummy in anything sweet to help him stop crying as this can lead to tooth decay. Especially avoid honey if your baby is less than a year old.
  • NEVER use a dummy clip (or similar attachment device) at night for risk of choking
  • It is also important to know how and when to wean your baby off their dummy. Experts recommend doing this before their first birthday as it may become more difficult after this age. The dummy is also more likely to interfere with speech development after this age.

Just like the decision to introduce a dummy, how you decide to wean it off is also a very personal choice. You may decide to go “cold turkey”,gradually reduce the usage over time or the “Dummy Fairy” is always at hand to take the dummy away (and will of course leave something in exchange for it!). However, you do it, the one piece of advice I would definitely give is once you have weaned your baby off it, throw the dummy away! It is all too tempting to get it the next time your baby is crying, but if you do, all that hard work will have gone to waste and we all know that babies are enough hard work as it is.

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