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All About Dummies

The good, the bad and the amazing!

I LOVE the dummy! As a mum and a sleep consultant.

I’ll be honest, I was very hesitant to give my son a dummy as a baby. I was lead to believe that giving my baby a dummy would ruin our breastfeeding journey. I am happy to report that I gave my son a dummy from 2 weeks old and we had an incredible exclusive breastfeeding journey until my son was 2 years old!

Why the dummy is great, from a sleep perspective.

Babies like sucking on dummies because it reminds them of being in the womb. In fact, sucking is one of 5 womb sensations (known as the 5 S's by Dr. Harvey Karp) capable of triggering a baby's innate calming reflex.

Sucking has an incredible calming effect on babies. It lowers the heart rate, blood pressure and stress levels; it even reduces crying after needles.

While nutritive sucking is when a baby gains milk for sustenance, non nutritive sucking is when a baby is sucking but they are just doing it for comfort. Non-nutritive sucking helps babies stay calm amid the chaos of the world around them.

Scientists have discovered that sucking a dummy at bedtime and nap time can lower your baby’s risk of SIDS . . . even if they spit it out after falling asleep.

When can the dummy become an issue?

Often parents will say they are tired of doing “dummy runs” throughout the night. The dummy can become an issue if your little one is relying on it to fall asleep and resettle throughout the night. If you’re happy to respond, pop the dummy back in and they go straight back to sleep - then there’s no problem! However, if this IS becoming an issue for you it may be time to ditch the dummy.

When to Ditch the Dummy?

Generally speaking there are 2 main ages that it is recommended to ‘Ditch the Dummy’, before 6 months or after 3 years. That’s not to say that you can’t ditch it anytime in between, it may just be more difficult, but not impossible.

It is recommended to ditch it before 6 months (if you choose to) before bub becomes completely reliant on it for sleep and settling and it becomes a habit.

If you decide to keep the dummy it is recommended to keep it until 3+ years of age. By this age your little one is able to comprehend what is happening and why. Before this time (around the age of 2) your little one will fight ditching the dummy as they’re not developmentally ready to understand why it is going.

Getting through the ‘Dummy Runs’

So you’ve decided to keep the dummy, but how do we get through the dummy runs? Around the age of 7 months old your little one has developed the motor skills to be able to start to replace the dummy themselves. Start by placing the dummy in their hand during awake time and guide it to their mouth for them to put in themselves, do this overnight as well. Over a week or so bub will be able to independently grasp and replace their own dummy. To help them find the dummy overnight, invest in some glow in the dark dummies and put multiple dummies in the cot for them to find.

Negatives of Dummies

  • Dummy use can be linked to slightly higher rates of middle ear infections.

  • Dummy use, especially beyond about 4-5 years of age, increases the chance of dental problems later in childhood – for example, the problem of a child’s teeth growing out of line.

  • Babies who use dummies a lot during the day might find it harder to say words properly when they start to speak.

  • Babies can get very upset when dummies are lost or misplaced.

Whether you choose to use a dummy, ditch it before 6 months or keep it into toddlerhood is all UP TO YOU!

Do what works for you!

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