Headlines about a baby who nearly choked after the teat of her dummy came away in her mouth has put the spotlight on dummy safety.
Dummies (also known as soothers or pacifiers) are safe - evidence has shown that they can even reduce the risk of cot death - but there are key things you should keep doing to keep them safe.
That's because dummies are susceptible to wear and tear. And, if parts of a dummy become weakened, the teat – or parts of it – can break off and, if they become lodged in your child's throat, cause choking and breathing problems.
Obviously, the chances of this happening are very rare – if you buy a soother from a reputable high-street retailer, it would have been subject to rigorous safety tests, says Philip Leshirley, Product Safety Consultant at the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents.
But accidents do happen, as mum-of-4 Caoimhe Henry experienced.
Caiomhe went upstairs to check on her sleeping 13-month-old baby Eireann, and found her lying motionless in her cot – a dummy on the floor with part of its teat missing (see the picture of the dummy, below, that she posted on Facebook).
Fortunately, Caomihe knew her first-aid, and after a few back slaps and chest presses, the broken bit of teat was dislodged and Eireann revived. She is now completely fine, with no lasting injuries.
Caomihe had bought the dummy from MAM on eBay and, when she talked to MAM about what happened, she says they reminded her about the need to do 'pull test' on a dummy before allowing your child to use it.
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We talked to MAM who told us, "We include warnings in our leaflets, that soothers should be inspected carefully before each use."
But when we asked our MFM mums on Facebook, we found that most of you didn't know about the Pull Test. So we teamed up with MAM to do a survey and found some surprising results:
"The survey showed while 73% of parents read the instructions on a soother packaging only 38% follow them," explains MAM.
"These instructions carry important usage and safety advice including instructions on the pull test. 56% of parents in the research had not heard of the Pull Test which is a key tool in keeping the soothers fit for use."
MAM has now launched a campaign to make sure that parents who use a soother are aware of this important issue.
So what is the Pull Test - and how do I do it?
It's amazingly simple – and only takes a couple of seconds. The important thing is to do it before you give the dummy to your child – every time. Watch this 30-second video to show you how.
You just check the dummy by pulling hard on the teat and then tugging on the handle and ring, to make sure nothing will not give way under pressure. If anything does give way, or feel like it might, bin the dummy straightaway.
Are there any other dummy safety tips I need to know?
Yes, there are 7 key safety tips when using a soother:
1. Do the Pull Test every time before you give your child a dummy
2. Always choose a dummy with a shield and ventilation holes.
3. Throw away any dummy that shows signs of wear and tear, including a hole, a rip or even discoloration.
4. Regularly sterilise or wash dummies in hot soapy water, rinse and air dry. If you're using sterilising solution, avoid leaving the dummy in the sterilising solution for longer than the time recommended. Don't wash in boiling water.
5. Check the manufacturer's leaflet to see how long it recommends you use the dummy for. Some manufacturers, like MAM, recommend you replace a dummy every 2 months, for 'hygienic purposes'.
6. Never leave a dummy in direct sunlight or near a strong source of heat, such as a radiator, as this can cause rubber to perish.
7. Never tie a dummy on a string or ribbon around your baby’s neck or attach one to the side of the cot. Both present a risk of strangulation.
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