Some parents swear by dummies. Others find the idea of plugging a baby’s mouth with a piece of plastic distasteful. Ultimately, of course, it depends on your baby. If you have a grizzly, inconsolable child, a dummy might be your lifeline to sanity. If your baby’s generally quite happy, however, there’ll be no need. As with anything, there’s always pros and cons…
The argument for dummies:
- Dummies are useful for babies who have an almost insatiable need to suck and could spare you sore nipples.
- Dummies are convenient and can be used to comfort a hungry baby until food is ready.
- Most babies find sucking soothing and will fall asleep easily while sucking on a dummy.
- Some parents would rather their baby sucked a dummy than his thumb, as the habit can be broken more easily.
The argument against:
- Pacifier use means your baby is less likely to develop self-soothing techniques, such as thumb sucking (one dummy that won’t get lost).
- When a baby falls asleep with a dummy and the dummy falls out, he often become restless and wakes up.
- Dummies can harbour bacteria and need to be cleaned and sterilised regularly.
- If it becomes a habit, dummy use is difficult to discourage in older babies and toddlers.
- Dummies can interfere with breastfeeding (one study found babies given dummies were more likely to reject the breast), so if you’re going to use one, experts recommend waiting until after breastfeeding has been well established.
- Never dip your baby’s dummy in anything sweet (a common practice years ago), especially honey. Babies under 12 months should not have honey because of the risk of botulism.
- Don’t attach dummies with a cord or ribbon because of the risk of strangulation.