To Dummy or Not to Dummy! The age-old question to which we have all the answers for you!
For some reason, parent world has quite a bee in its bonnet over the use of dummies! Some are a heck-yes and others are a heck-no. I personally recommend to my clients to do what Feels-Good, this is your family so these choices are up to you! Do a bit of reading, (from trusted sources like right here), then choose and stand confidently in that!
So, dummies what are they actually good for?
Well, sucking is one of the best tools you can use to help calm and soothe your baby in the early weeks and months. It turns on the calming reflex, lowers heart rate, blood pressure and stress levels (and not just for baby either, let’s be clear!)
Dummies also provide a non-nutritive association, which means if baby doesn’t need to feed, offering a dummy will still help to induce calm and sleep.
It’s also known to relieve some types of pain, help with reflux and reduce the risk of SIDS.
If your baby has been diagnosed with reflux, offering the dummy will help produce saliva which can aid in soothing the throat, as well as relieving the symptoms.
We also rate them as a positive sleep association when used safely and effectively, especially when your little one has learnt to find and replace it all on their own (which can happen from around 7 months).
What type of dummy works best?
It can take a few attempts to find the right type for your little one. I generally recommend the cherry-shaped ones are best as they can rest in baby’s mouth without falling out as easily meaning there are far less chances of having to replace it upon waking.
PLEASE NOTE – Ensure whichever dummy you use is a transparent rubber ONLY – these won’t deteriorate or release yucky chemicals over time!
Let’s cover some of the big DUMMY DON’TS
- It is not recommended to introduce a dummy until after feeding is well-established but no later than 4 weeks as baby is more likely to reject it from then on!
- A wee bonus tip: If you want your baby to be able to take a bottle I’d recommend offering it daily around the same time! I personally loved having the flexibility of being able to pop out and know I didn’t have to rush home in time for the next feed. Plus, it’s really special for your partner to be able to get involved early on – but as always, do what feels-good for your family!
- Never force the use of a dummy. The worst time to offer it is when baby is crying – it is likely to make them even more upset. The aim is First get baby calm, then offer it. If baby still isn’t overly interested you can try a little reverse-psychology, pull the dummy back a little bit (but not all the way out) a couple of times, this should encourage baby to resist and suck harder.
- Never dip a dummy in any substance!
- Try not to suck it yourself as the germs in your saliva will transfer to baby. Keep it clean especially when your little one is young. Carry a back up (or 5) in case it falls to the floor.
- Never attach anything to the dummy during sleep. If you choose to attach something to it, be sure to supervise at all times as these do pose serious risks to baby’s safety.
- When baby is older (7 months+) you can purchase a comforter like the Sleepy Tot or Kippins that will keep a dummy attached to it. These are great tools for teaching your baby to find and replace the dummy themselves as they grow!
- If you are ALL IN with the dummy, then be ALL IN. Please avoid placing any restrictions on the use of the dummy, your tiny tot will not be able to understand this which will lead to many-a-meltdown – seriously, who has time for that?
Now for the DUMMY DO’S
- Decide early whether you wish to keep the dummy long term or get rid of it.
- The best time to get rid of a dummy is between 4 and 5-months-old as this is the easiest time to remove it for you and baby.
- If you choose to keep the dummy this it is important to commit to keeping it until baby is around 2.5- years-old. This is when your baby will be old enough to understand when it is time to say goodbye.
- Ditching the dummy between 5 months and 2.5 years can prove really difficult on everyone. Baby has usually developed a strong attachment beyond 6-months and will not understand why they can’t have it. So once you’re in, be all in! Throw any dummy rules out the window and let them have it whenever, wherever!
- Baby will need help to replace the dummy (sometimes even hourly overnight) upon waking which may mean sleep is not as consolidated until much later. You are likely be up a number of times in the night to replace it until your little one is around 7-8 months old which is when you can teach baby to find and replace it independently.
So, Can your baby sleep with a dummy? Absolutely they can! In fact, if your little one happily takes it we recommend going for it for those first 4 – 5 months!
As always, do what Feels-Good for your family and should it all become a little too tricky we are here to help you back on track!
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I’m Courtney, child-wrangler, sometimes parent-wrangler, sleep & behavioural specialist, and instigator of The Parenting Edit. And helping stressed and exhausted parents get their parenting swagger back? I live for it.
With a family-first approach, I take what you give me and work with it to get your family back to sleep. You’re guaranteed to feel supported and heard during our time together.
Let me know what you’re struggling with and let’s book you in!