Should I use a dummy for my baby?
Dummies can be fantastic for newborns to help them to settle.
When you’re a parent having a settled or sleeping baby is one of you top priorities as a distressed baby who won’t sleep disrupts the whole family. In saying that there are many ways to soothe your baby from bouncing and rocking to a simple cuddle. However sometimes it helps to have the assistance of things like dummies or even bouncers.
Should I use a dummy?
- A dummy helps to soothe a baby to sleep because the urge to suck/sucking reflex. Sucking triggers the calming reflex for newborns and this, combined with swaddling, white noise, and perhaps a bit or rocking or patting can be the perfect combination to send even the hardest to settle baby off to the land of nod.
- Helpful for babies who suffer from colic or reflux who often need a bit more assistance to be able to settle to sleep.
- Can help a premature baby create a stronger sucking reflex.
- Some research indicates babies who suck dummies at night may have a lowered risk of SIDS, although the research did not indicate why this might be.
- If introduced too early, it can cause nipple confusion which using a dummy can prevent your baby from sucking well during breastfeeding and helping mothers to build up a good breastmilk supply, which in some cases can lead to feeding problems.
- It can cause sleep disturbance for baby and parents. Babies often fall asleep and settles quickly but will have frequent night wakings needing parents to put the dummy back into the mouth.
- A higher incidence of respiratory, ear and gastrointestinal infections, accidents and dental malocclusion.
- It can be stressful for parents and baby when ditching the dummy.
There is further reading on the Red Nose Australia website:
If you decide to stop using dummies with your baby at three months, their memory of relying on this as a soothing mechanism will fade very quickly. But, if you choose to continue using dummies you should prepare yourself for what could be a bumpy ride when you attempt to take it away between six months and a year and your child is more reliant on it.
At what age should you stop using a dummy?
The AAP recommends to start weaning at 6 months and the AAPD recommends to wean by 3 years old.
Ditching dummy is only necessary if it is a problem of causing more night waking where you need to get up replace into your baby’s mouth over and over again which resulting this become a negative sleep prop
3-6 months is the golden time to teach your baby to ditch dummy cold turkey and it only takes 2-3 days
If you decided to keep the dummy, you need to teach your baby to find and replace it themselves independently around 8-9 months. Then this carries on till 2.5-3 years old where you can ditch the dummy cold turkey.
There are 2 ways to wean dummy
- Cold Turkey (around 3-6 months)
- Gradual Weaning for toddler
Why Cold Turkey Method
- It is because “out of sight, out of mind”
- Baby is a fast learner; you will see the difference in 2-3 days if you keep up the consistency
- No confusion for your child when they can and cannot use the dummy
- Your child will forget about the dummy and find other ways to self settles at sleep.
Gradual Weaning for Toddler Dummy Weaning
- Set up a Bye-Bye every time the dummy is taken away
- Create a consistent Bye-Bye ritual for the dummy
- Leave the dummy in cot, or give it to younger siblings
- Keep the dummy out of sight when not needed
- Play separation & return games with the dummy eg like hide and seek
- Teach your toddler the dummy has ” OFF” time when it is not in service
If you’re struggling with your baby’s sleep and you think the dummy might be the issue and you’d like some help resolving it, check out my packages here.