Many people, before they are parents, think that they would never give their child a dummy (called a pacifier for our US friends). But once you’ve experienced a few screaming fits in the car, or your nipples are raw from comfort feeding, it’s easy to see the appeal!
Dummies have gone in and out of fashion, but here’s the bottom line: if it makes you and you baby happy - do it!
Have a read through some of the pros and cons of dummies to help you make the right decision for your family.
- Babies love sucking and it helps most babies settle.
- I haven’t found any rock-hard evidence that dummies can cause serious health or developmental problems in infants.
- Dentists are only concerned about the use of dummies at the age of 6 years old, when adult teeth are coming through.
- If you don’t give your baby a dummy there is a chance they will find another way to meet their oral sensory needs, like thumb sucking. Which is much harder to stop as you can’t remove a thumb!
- Your baby can get very upset if the dummy is lost.
- Your baby can become dependant on the dummy and unable to sleep without it.
- Your baby might not be able to find their dummy themselves in the night and may need your help until around 8 months of age.
- It can be used in a way that represses emotions (but doesn’t have to be).
- Prolonged or excessive use can affect breastfeeding and dental health.
If you are worried about breastfeeding
It is no longer thought that dummies necessarily inhibit breastfeeding, when the mother is already confident, but if breastfeeding is not going well get support with your breastfeeding skills and confidence before introducing a dummy. Campaigns to reduce dummy use, without supporting breastfeeding are thought to be of little help in promoting breastfeeding.
If you are confident with breastfeeding then the best evidence we have suggest that dummy use will not shorten your duration of breastfeeding, unless you are using it with that intent.
All mother’s milk supply will benefit from breastfeeding on demand, whether a dummy is used or not, and a dummy should never be used to 'stretch' a feed.
If you are still concerned wait until your milk supply is established around 8 weeks before introducing a dummy.
Once you've explored your options you might still find you have a lot of emotional resistance to dummies and pacifiers. Maybe you fear public judgement? Maybe you are judging yourself? Some mothers spend a long time agonising over the decision.
The irony is that even if you decide you want to use a dummy your baby might not agree. You can try a few little tricks, but it’s quite possible your that baby will flat out refuse.
Tips & Tricks
- You can try putting some expressed breast milk onto the tip of the dummy to make it more appealing.
- You can tap the dummy gently when it’s in your baby’s mouth to encourage sucking.
- When your baby is sucking you can gently pull on it to encourage them to suck harder.
But despite your best efforts some babies are just not interested in dummies.
As always, do what brings you and your baby peace and joy.