Sucking a dummy can help some babies settle and can have a soothing and settling effect on babies. We used a dummy with our first baby but our second baby took to sucking his thumb more.
Deciding whether or not to use a dummy
The main advantage of babies having dummies is that they can satisfy their sucking instincts if they’re not breastfed. Using dummies can calm babies and help them to fall asleep. Dummies can also be used to sooth babies at other times, for example to help reduce pain during hospital procedures.
Another advantage could be that dummies might protect against SIDS although more evidence is needed.
The downsides of using a dummy are that it has the potential to interfere with breastfeeding and is associated with a higher risk of wheezing, ear and tummy infections, accidents and dental problems.
Here are some practical tips for everyday dummy use:
- If you’re breastfeeding, offer the dummy only when you can be sure your baby isn’t hungry – for example, after or between feeds. This helps to ensure that dummy-sucking doesn’t interfere with breastfeeding.
- Check the dummy regularly to see whether it’s worn or degraded. Replace the dummy if it’s broken or worn. Babies can choke on any loose bits.
- Keep spare dummies handy. Your baby is sure to drop the dummy somewhere without you noticing, then get upset when they want it again. You may also find it helpful to keep alot of dummies scattered around the cot for when they wake and can't find it.
- Don’t dip the dummy in sweet drinks or sweet food like honey. This can cause tooth decay
- Don’t tie the dummy around your baby’s hand, neck or cot. This is a strangulation risk if the dummy chain or tie is long enough to catch around your baby’s neck.
Giving up the dummy - meet the dummy fairy
Sometimes children decide to give up their dummies by themselves. Most often, parents are the ones who decide it’s time to give it up. As a parent, you know your child best. You’re the best one to decide whether your child is ready to move on from the dummy. Try not to feel rushed or pressured by the reactions of family, other children or even strangers.
Your child probably won’t find it easy to part with the dummy. So if you feel it’s time for the dummy to go, introducing the dummy fairy may be a helpful and gentle method to support this. This is a gentle approach that keeps your toddler involved and celebrates them growing up and being a big kid!
The best time to wean from the dummy is when things are already going well with your toddler’s sleep and no major changes have been introduced to their life such as a new sibling or starting preschool.
The dummy fairy collects dummies from toddlers all over the world and gives them to babies who need them (wink, wink).
We suggest the following method:
- Give your toddler a heads up. Let them know the Dummy Fairy will be coming soon to take their dummy because they are a 'big kid' and won’t need it any longer.
- Create a colorful “bye-bye dummy” calendar. Whether you decide to take three days or three weeks, your youngster will appreciate the time to prepare mentally and emotionally.
- Check out books about the dummy fairy.
- Start weaning your child by not offering a dummy when they are in stress-free situations and use only at night the few days leading up to the Dummy Fairy.
- On the day of, collect all dummies together with your child and place them in a special bag or container next to their little belle fairy house (www.little-belle.com)
- After your little one falls asleep, replace their bag of dummies with treats, toys or another source of comfort such as a new teddy bear or special pillow – as a gift from the Dummy Fairy.
- During the tough times, remind your now “big kid” that the Dummy Fairy took their dummies to the little babies who needed them. Expect one to five challenging nights, but soon the Dummy Fairy will be a sweet memory.
- Celebrate your child’s “big boy” or “big girl” status with a special playdate or a small party.
The beauty with the Dummy Fairy technique is that you can spend as much time as your child needs building up to the big visit from the small winged one: for a younger child, you may want to introduce the DF idea and then follow through pretty quickly, while the excitement’s still fresh; for an older child, who’s maybe more determinedly attached to her or his dummy, you can take it more slowly, involving your child in all the Dummy Fairy ‘preparations’ and so giving him or her plenty of time to adjust to, and buy into, the whole plan.