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. Allowing babies to use the dummy helps to pacify and soothe them so Mum feel a little less like they are being used as a human dummy.
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. This *can lead to move challenging sleep as your child gets older.
Also, babies are not capable of finding and replacing their own dummy until at least 6-7 months of age. Therefore, it will be your responsibility as the parent to replace the dummy any time your baby needs it replaced until they are old enough to do this themselves. This can mean frequent night wakes and dummy replacements for a relatively long period of time.
The good news is, that if you do decide to proceed with the dummy, you can teach them to find and replace their own dummy and shift the responsibility from you to them, once your baby is over 7 months of age
In the first instance, just place the dummy in their hand and guide it to their mouth. Once they can do this consistently, move to placing the dummy in their hand and allow them to place it in their mouth themselves. Once your baby can do this consistently themselves, place the dummy in the cot next to them and draw their attention to where it is using verbal instructions to encourage them to pick it up themselves. The next phase will be to draw their attention to where the dummy is in the cot and encourage them to pick it up and replace it themselves.
My name is Shereen Nielsen and I am a certified infant and child sleep coach and Birth and Postpartum Doula. I am also a lecturer and mentor for students on their journey towards becoming a Sleep Consultant, through my on-line internationally recognised sleep consultants course.
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