Wondering if you should use a dummy? We look at both sides of the argument around using a pacifier, as well as why your baby finds them soothing and how to use one safely.
Dummies (also called pacifiers or soothers) are widely used by mums to help soothe babies, encourage them to sleep or stop them crying. There is also some evidence to suggest that using a dummy can reduce the risk of SIDS.
When it comes to using a dummy, mums generally divide into two camps. Some swear by their dummy, to help tearful babies get some rest, while others never use one. It’s completely up to you to decide if a dummy could help you and your baby get some peace, but before you decide, it’s worth knowing what they’re all about and being aware of the pros and cons.
Dummies or pacifiers are a silicone or rubber teat that babies can suck on, attached to a plastic shield and handle that prevent them swallowing or choking on the teat. You can also get teats made of latex, which are softer. Orthodontic dummies are also available, which are flatter than traditional dummies and are designed to be better for your baby’s teeth and jaw development.
Young babies are naturally soothed by the action of sucking and you may find that a dummy can help comfort them when they’re not feeding. This desire to suck is a comfort mechanism and will decrease over time, as your baby develops other ways to soothe.
It’s recommended that you don’t start giving your baby a dummy until she’s at least a month old. Try to wait until she’s got the hang of breastfeeding (around 6-8 weeks), as this will minimise any interference the dummy could have on feeding (explained below). If you stop giving your baby her dummy when she's around 3 months, she’ll probably forget all about it. But if you decide to continue using it, you’ll need to wean her off between 6 months and 1 year and this can sometimes be a bit tricky.
A dummy may be helpful if your baby is premature, as it can encourage sucking. This may help her adapt from tube to bottlefeeding. Studies have indicated that premature babies given dummies tend to have shorter hospital stays.
Dummies might interfere with breastfeeding, as some experts believe babies can have difficulty switching between the different types of sucking, so you need to follow a few guidelines:
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