Dummies

DUMMIES OR PACIFIERS ARE NIPPLE-SHAPED RUBBER OBJECTS THAT ARE DESIGNED FOR BABIES TO SUCK OR BITE ON.

If you've got a little sucker on your hands, using a dummy is very tempting.  But is there a downside?

LET'S TAKE A LOOK AT THE FACTS.

Like many decision you make as a mother, this is a controversial one.

Some babies are born with an insatiable need to suck. These 'comfort suckers' will happily nurse for hours on end, often leaving mum sore and exhausted. The dummy can offer some relief, but it certainly doesn't come without its drawbacks:

#1 DUMMIES CAN AFFECT JAW & TEETH DEVELOPMENT

Prolonged use of a dummy can cause problems with jaw muscle development, alignment of the teeth and the shape of the roof of the mouth.  There is some debate as to what constitutes prolonged use, but generally, this means allowing bub to suck on a dummy for long periods of time, and for longer the 12 months total.

#2 DUMMIES INCREASE THE LIKELIHOOD OF MIDDLE EAR INFECTIONS

Research shows a correlation between dummy use and acute middle ear infections (known as otitis media).  When babies suck continuously on a dummy, their auditory tubes can become abnormally open, allowing fluid from the throat to find its way into the middle ear and cause infection.

#3 DUMMIES CAN CONTRIBUTE TO A POOR FEEDING LATCH

It is widely agreed that dummies should be avoided entirely until breastfeeding is well established, at least for the first month of life.  Dummies can cause 'nipple confusion' and result in problems with latching and sucking technique. If a baby is having trouble learning to latch or suck properly, or if you're concerned about your milk supply, try to avoid using a dummy until these issues are well and truly solved..

#4 DUMMIES CAN NEGATIVELY INFLUENCE YOUR BABIES SPEECH

Most speech-language pathologists would recommend against using a dummy, especially after the first 12 months when children's speech and language skills are developing rapidly.  Dummies may decrease the likelihood that your child will practice sound and can distort speech. They can also result in abnormal dental structures that further impact proper articulation.  

#5 BABIES GET ATTACHED TO THEIR DUMMY & EVENTUALLY NEED TO BE 'WEANED'

It's not usually easy to wean your baby off their dummy.  In some case a less moody baby in the short term might result in more hard work in the long term.  Some mums have trouble comforting their babies or getting them to sleep when the dummy fall-back option is taken away.  So be sure to consider the future drama you might be signing up for if your bub falls in love with their dummy.

Ultimately, there is no right or wrong here.  If you're having any trouble nursing, you should probably avoid a dummy until you and your baby have found your feeding groove.  If you're confident your baby is latching properly, using a dummy just for comfort sucking (never is place of a feed) becomes a viable option.  

You can minimise the negative outcomes of dummy use by:

  • Restricting dummy use to short bursts for comfort, rather than for extended hours of sucking
  • Never attaching a dummy to your baby or letting them fall asleep with it in
  • Using a dummy for no more than a year overall

The lure of extra hour sleep or a quieter, happier bub in the car is sometimes just too much to resist.  So make a call based on what works best for you and your bub.

Ditch the dummy before the birthday #1, and don't sweat it either way.