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Dummy...or no Dummy?

Updated: Aug 30, 2022

Are you on the fence about whether to introduce a dummy to your baby? Well you’re not alone. Most parents are either for or against them and have their own reasons. It is important that you understand both benefits and disadvantages to dummy use so you can make an informed choice.

Firstly, dummies are known to trigger the calming reflex and are a great calming tool to many babies and children. It is believed that the dummy rests on a segmental nerve of the central nervous system which helps to trigger the rest and digest state, making children feel comforted and soothed by the sucking.

It can be quite relieving for parents to know that they may offer the dummy during bouts of crying and unsettled behaviour and this will assist in reducing these distressing and tiring periods. And, it can also help babies to settle to sleep independently and this can absolutely provide parents with a little more time.

Although there are many benefits to allowing dummy use, recent developments in research has helped us to understand that the use of a dummy can lead to mouth-breathing because it does encourage a ‘tongue down’ posture. Mouth breathing, and sub-optimal tongue positioning, can have long term detrimental effects to your child's oral development, breathing, eating and sleeping habits.

From a professional perspective, I recommend avoiding introducing a dummy if your child is calm and easily soothed with other levels of support and assistance. However, if you are struggling to calm your baby down, then it can be helpful and less stressful for you to allow your baby to use the dummy as a soothing tool.

If your baby is over 7 months of age and does not use a dummy, introducing a dummy will not solve your sleep concerns so I recommend proceeding without the dummy to support the best outcome for optimal oral development.

But what if your child already has a dummy? Should you get rid of it, or allow your child to keep using it? Taking the dummy away at any age can be traumatic for both parent and child, so it's important to consider this when deciding on your next move. However, the best times to remove a dummy from your child is before the age of 6 months, or after the age of 2.5 years.

Before 6 months can be done cold-turkey but it can take at least 1 week for your baby to stop crying for (or demanding) the