As practitioners, we understand that there are different opinions on the use of dummies with babies and young children. In this article, we will discuss the pros and cons of dummy use to help you make an informed decision for your child.
- Soothing: Dummies can be a source of comfort for babies, especially when they are going through a difficult phase such as teething or experiencing separation anxiety.
- Sleep aid: Babies who use dummies at night may fall asleep faster and sleep for longer periods of time. This can be beneficial for both the child and parent, as a well-rested baby is usually a happier baby.
- SIDS prevention: The use of dummies during sleep has been linked to a lower risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). The exact reason for this is unknown, but it is believed that the dummy may help keep the airway open and prevent suffocation.
- Dental problems: Long-term use of dummies can lead to dental problems such as misalignment of teeth and an overbite. This is because the pressure of the dummy can affect the growth of the teeth and jaw.
- Speech delay: Babies who use dummies for an extended period may experience speech delays. This is because the dummy can interfere with the development of the muscles in the mouth and tongue needed for speech.
- Dependency: Over-reliance on dummies can lead to a dependency that can be challenging to break. Children may become upset or anxious when the dummy is taken away, making it difficult for them to self-soothe.
As with any parenting decision, the use of dummies should be based on your personal preference and your child’s needs. If you do choose to use a dummy, it is essential to establish limits and gradually wean your child off of it as they get older (around 6 – 12 months).
What Age Should You Wean Your Child off a Dummy?
According to the NHS, parents should aim to wean their child off a dummy between 6 and 12 months of age to reduce the risk of speech and dental problems. The NHS recommends that parents start to phase out the use of a dummy around 6 months of age, and that by the time their child is one year old, the dummy should be stopped completely.
It’s worth noting that the NHS also acknowledges that some children may find it more difficult to give up their dummy, and that parents should be patient and persistent in helping their child break the habit.
Tips to Break Dummy Use:
When the time comes for parents to wean their child off the dummy, here are some tips to help your child stop using a dummy:
- Gradually reduce usage: Instead of taking the dummy away suddenly, gradually reduce the amount of time your child uses it each day. For example, start by limiting dummy use to nap time and bedtime only.
- Find alternative comfort items: Help your child find other comfort items, such as a favourite stuffed animal or blanket, to use instead of the dummy.
- Use positive reinforcement: Praise your child when they don’t use the dummy – acknowledge their effort in the moment.
- Involve your child in the process: Explain to your baby or child why it’s time to stop using the dummy and involve them in the process. For older children, let them choose a special place to keep their dummy or have them help pack it away.
- Be consistent: Once you’ve decided to wean your child off the dummy, be consistent with the plan. Stick to the plan and resist the urge to give in to your child’s requests for the dummy.
Remember, every child is different and may require a different approach when it comes to stopping dummy use. Be patient, gentle and supportive as your child adjusts to this change.
With patience, persistence, and a little creativity, you can help your child break the habit of using a dummy and develop new ways of soothing and comforting themselves.
If you have any questions on this, or any other area of child development please do let your room team know as we are happy to help.
For more information
National Literacy Trust – Dummies and learning to talk