The Dummy Debate

Sunday, 22 December 2013

This is a question that comes up time and time again and people tend to be quite divided on it, they're a bit like marmite in the parenting world.

At the start of my pregnancy, N and I were quite against dummies and just said that we weren't going to bother with them. Our main reason for this was because we didn't want Oscar getting into a bad habit with it and refusing to go to sleep/settle without one or waking up all the time in the night for us to put it back in.

However, when we were out shopping for baby things, I thought I might as well pick a pack up and use them if we felt that they'd be beneficial to Oscar in helping soothe him. - N wasn't too pleased about this but I just said we didn't have to use them if we didn't want to but at least the option was there.

I decided to pick up the Tommee Tippee dummies as we had the bottles (we switched to Avent a couple of weeks after he was born as the teats kept collapsing on themselves) and according to their website/packaging they help support the natural shape of baby’s growing palate and have a special teat that expands gently across the roof of the mouth which to support healthy teeth and gum development.
Dummies by other brands such as Avent and Mothercare's own range also offer the same thing though so there's quite a large selection to choose from and it's pretty much from an aesthetic point of view which ones you go for.

Once Oscar arrived it's needless to say that we did indeed go down the dummy route. For the first few days we were sans dummy and then in a moment of desperation when he was really upset, we decided to pop one in and see if it would help calm him down.

It did.

From that point on, if Oscar was upset for no main reason such as a feed/change/sleep etc, we would try him with his dummy and see if that was what he wanted. He would go down with it at every sleep time but we did encounter the issue we had feared where when it came out when he was sleeping, he would wake and cry for it until we popped it back in.

It was when we went away for a week and he was sleeping in his travel cot in a different room that we really had a problem, he was waking numerous times in the night rather than just occasionally and sometimes we were no sooner back in bed than it had fallen out again. This made for a couple of very tired parents and an unsettled night for Ozzy.

However, this all soon came to a stop as he seemed to find his thumb at about 12 weeks old and that solved all of our dummy related issues. He now only really ever wants his thumb and of course it's easy for him to find in the night as all he has to do is pop his thumb in rather than be unable to find his dummy. He sucks his thumb as his main way of soothing himself and also when he's tired. We do still have a dummy in his cot as sometimes he'll like to have it in at first and if it comes out during the night, he'll pop his thumb in.

At first we were a bit worried that the thumb sucking might become a serious habit that he could find hard to stop when he's older or that it could cause issues with his teeth developing but we'll just have to see how it goes. It makes him happy for now and I have read that quite a lot of babies stop sucking their thumb when they are ready, but we are prepared that it could be a difficult habit for him to break out of!

Overall, I'd have to say that I am in favour of the dummy.  One of the main positives that I was happy about was that research has shown that it can give protection and help minimise the risk of SIDS if you give them one as they go down to sleep as it can help regulate their breathing. It's also obviously good for baby to soothe themselves with and can help with babies who have a strong suck reflex that exceeds the time they would spend on bottle or breast.

The negatives are that they could potentially cause nipple confusion if you're breastfeeding, so it's recommended to keep them off a dummy if you are until they're about one month old. They can also cause the same issue as thumb sucking with teeth development and possibly causing a speech impediment. Of course, some people just don't like the look of dummies in a babies mouth and you could worry that you might be encouraging a lack of communication as they get older.

In my opinion, the positives and the negatives can balance each other out and if you use it sparingly, such as only at sleep times or at times of real distress, the chances are that your baby is unlikely to develop a bad habit with it and will be able to soothe themselves. You can also get glow in the dark dummies which are great for when little ones are a bit older and can spot them dummy and put it back in if it comes out! Or to be honest, handy for parents when you can't spot the darn thing in the cot when they're crying out for it at 3am...

What's your opinion on dummies? Could you never be without them or do you loathe them with a passion?


  1. Hello! first thanks for your comment on my blogpost about parenting style :)
    With Athena we tried them, but she would just spit them out, apart from a couple of car journeys, which was a blessing! She found her thumb around the same time that Oscar did by the sounds of it, which is great but I am worried she'll never give it up! (her father still sucks his thumb at 25 when he is really tired!!!!!!) she has however started to do it a bit less recently which I think might be because her two lower teeth are quite big now so perhaps they get in the way? I did try her with a dummy a few nights ago when she was really unsettled and had drunk me dry but she just pulled it out and looked at it strangely!
    I personally don't like it when I see a baby of anything more than around a year old with a dummy in, and would worry about communication too!

    1. Hey! You're welcome :-)

      I know, I am a bit concerned as Oscar loved them at first but now he just wants his thumb, how funny about her daddy! Oscar doesn't have his lower teeth yet but they look like they will be coming through in the next 2/3 months so maybe he'll be the same. And I agree, I actually saw what looked like a 5 year old in a pram with a dummy for no apparent reason?!

  2. Great post Kat. We're also giving Finlay a dummy. Half the time he's sucking his hands but he'll happily take one when he needs a little comfort before falling asleep for a nap. I think there's nothing wrong with them personally when they're still babies :) x


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