How a dummy can reduce the risk of cot death

Giving a young baby a soother at night time can have a surprising and important health benefit

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It’s a crucial bit of info that every parent thinking of using a soother should know. And yet, in a study we carried out with soother brand MAM, we discovered that 33% of parents didn’t know that a soother can help reduce the risk of cot death.

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MAM has teamed up with The Lullaby Trust to raise awareness  about how soothers can make a real difference in the fight against cot death.

Here are some answers to the most common questions parents ask when it comes to using soothers and the subject of cot death:

Where has this evidence come from?

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) set up a group to investigate all published literature on this subject. At the same time, three researchers from the UK, New Zealand and the Netherlands also reviewed the literature and their findings were essentially identical to the AAP’s. All found that infants who had used a dummy were significantly less likely to fall victim to cot death. We don’t know why dummies have these protective benefits, but they do, and experts have the research to back it up.

At what age does a baby most benefit from using a soother?

Babies under 6 months benefit most from using a dummy while falling asleep. The risk of cot death risk naturally reduces after the age of 6 months.

Should I pop her dummy back in if it falls out when she’s asleep?

The protective properties appear to be greatest as your baby falls asleep, and in the initial stages of sleep. Three quarters of dummies fall out when babies are asleep, but there’s no need to put it back in. Every time you put your baby down for a sleep, give her a dummy – use it for naps too. But don’t force her to take one if she doesn’t want it.

I’m breastfeeding. Will using a dummy confuse my baby?

Breastfed babies should not be offered a dummy until breastfeeding has been established. Research shows that if you follow this rule there is no evidence of an adverse effect of using a dummy.

Are there any benefits in using a dummy when my baby is awake?

A dummy may provide some comfort through ‘non-nutritive’ sucking if used while awake, but there’s no extra benefit.

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What else can I do to reduce the risk of cot death?

  • Cut smoking in pregnancy- fathers too! And don’t let anyone smoke in the same room as your baby. 
  • Place your baby on the back to sleep (not on the front or side) 
  • Do not let your baby get too hot, and keep your baby’s head uncovered. 
  • Place your baby with their feet at the foot of the cot to prevent them wriggling down under the covers, or use a baby sleep bag. 
  • Never sleep with your baby on a sofa or armchair. 
  • The safest place for your baby to sleep is in a crib or cot in a room with you for the first six months.

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