As a Midwife and Child Health Nurse who works closely with babies and children from birth to 5 years old, I have discovered some useful insight into the use of dummies for babies that I would like to share with you. The decision to use one or not will be up to you. Not all babies take to sucking a dummy but there are certainly babies in the world who do benefit from sucking one. Once you have heard my findings the decision to use one or not will then be up to you.
Six positive reasons for a baby to use a dummy
1. Babies who are three to four weeks old who have learnt to attach and feed well from the breast may need to continue non - nutritive sucking for comfort or stress relief. In this situation, the breast feeding mother and her nipples could do with some relief and possibly repair from constant sucking. It is however, important not to substitute a breast feed for a dummy as this can reduce milk production resulting in an undernourished and unsettled baby.
2. A baby sucking a dummy can reduce tummy discomfort, cranial discomfort and wind pain until the cause of the pain and discomfort is diagnosed and relieved. However, by aiding the digestive process this then can cause them to become hungrier earlier.
3. Sucking a dummy can reduce the pain of gastro oesophageal reflux allowing for a bit more sleep for everyone!
4. Recent knowledge indicates a baby sucking a dummy can reduce the incidence of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome). This is thought to be due to a baby being in a more alert state of sleep and having their airways in a more open position allowing for better air entry. There are also other factors relating to the reduction of SIDS
5. Premature babies are given dummies to help them suck when they are fed via a tube and to stimulate their suck before they are able to breast feed efficiently. Research indicates this helps reduces their stay in NICU.
6. A baby who settles to sleep best with a sucking action. Commonly, a baby who is fed either breast milk or infant formula from a bottle requires a dummy to build up the length of sucking time they require in a day.
Seven reasons why a baby is disadvantaged using a dummy.
1. There is an increased risk of bacterial infections from dirty dummies. Sterilise them regularly and throw out any that have cracks or worn areas where bacteria can settle
2. The continued use of a dummy after three or four months can set up strong sleep associations that can lead to unsettled sleep in the months that follow
3. The regular and frequent use of a dummy has been shown to decrease the length of time a woman will continue to breast feed
4. A young baby who sucks too often on a dummy can be too tired for nutritional breast or bottle feeding
5. The use of a dummy after nine months can not only disturb good sleep patterns but it can also interfere with speech development
6. Choking hazard from faulty or worn out dummies
7. Sucking on a dummy when your baby could be awake and babbling restricts the natural development of language
Which dummy to choose?
There are many dummies on the market and it can be difficult to know which one is best. Consider one that closely mimics your breast nipple.
1. Look for the dummy that is soft and supple. The brown latex rubber is usually the softest.
2. Choose a shape that is similar to your nipple, this is usually the round cherry or bulb shaped dummy. Large or small.
3. It needs to be large enough to reach the soft palete in your baby's mouth but not too far back to touch the 'gag reflex'. This will depend on the size of your baby's mouth.
With the above information in mind, I believe there can be a place for dummies for some babies, providing that it is an appropriate dummy used at an appropriate time and preferably for the first four months of life when a baby’s strong sucking reflex is present. After this age (with guidance) they discover other ways to soothe themselves and dummies can be discarded.
If you like this information you will love
Do you have a baby around four months old?
'I am nearly 6 months old'
If you would like to include this article in your newsletter or website; you can, providing you include the following blurb with it:
This article was brought to you by Jan Murray, Private Child Health Consultant who is an internationally renowned expert in her field. Jan encourages parents in the area of infant sleep, nutrition, activities and family balance. She publishes regular ezine and blog articles to provide free parenting tips, tools and resources to educate and support those caring for young babies and children. For more online resources visit http://www.settlepetal.com