Dummies, pacifiers… whatever you want to call them, are a tricky subject. You have people who absolutely swear by them, others who aren’t that fussed either way and some who think they are the worst thing you can possibly put anywhere near your child.
When we become parents for the first time, many of us don’t really know what we’re doing to start with. A lot of it is trial and error – there are no instructions! We just wing it a lot of the time, and we figure out what works and what doesn’t work in our own way.
Whether you choose to give your baby a dummy or not, that’s absolutely down to you. You may have every intention not to entertain the idea of a dummy until your baby is still relentlessly crying at 4 am and no one has had anything that resembles sleep in days.
So, what’s the deal with dummies? Well, they’ve been used for centuries and are sometimes called pacifiers or soothers, to -as the names suggests- calm and settle babies.
Babies are soothed by the action of sucking, so when they’re awake and not feeding babies sometimes want to suck on something for comfort. On the flip side, some believe that the longer your baby has a dummy, the more likely it is to change the way the teeth grow (but this is also believed to affect children who use a dummy for four years or more). Although, the same could also be said for thumb sucking.
It’s also said that if your little one relies on a dummy for a large part of the day, it could make it more difficult for them to make sounds or try to talk to you.
Finding a balance and limiting dummy time is one way to avoid this potentially happening.
Using a dummy is by no means a ‘cop-out’. I used one in the early stages of my child’s life but he decided he no longer wanted it at around 9 months old.
If you do choose to give your baby a dummy, choose one that is appropriate for their age (there are various shapes and sizes available), sterilise it as you would do bottle teats and make sure you check them regularly for cracks, splits or other damage that can invite germs. Ideally, you should try and wean your baby off a dummy between around six months and 12 months – this makes it an easier process than when they’re older.
Whether you choose to pacify or not, always remember: do what’s right for you and your baby, and you’re the only one who can decide what that is.