Some mums plan to use dummies from the start, some mums vow not to but then give in, and others never feel the need. But if it’s something you’re considering, you probably have a few questions…
Why do babies like dummies?
Because they’re born with a natural sucking reflex and urge to suck which releases chemicals that reduce stress and therefore help them sleep. Clever innit?
When can I use a dummy?
Some mums use them from the start, but official advice is to wait until breastfeeding is properly established, which can take a few weeks.
Will it affect breastfeeding then?
It can. Breastfed babies need frequent feeds to build up your milk supply, even if you think they’re just “comfort feeding”. This is when some mums might pop in a dummy instead, which can lead to a dwindling milk supply. Always offer the boob first and only pop the dummy in when you’re sure they’re satisfied and going into a deep sleep.
What if they don’t want it?
Some babies categorically refuse dummies, for reasons best known to themselves (and they’ll never be able to tell you…). This can be frustrating if it was part of your parenting plan, but at least you won’t have to try and get rid of it in a few months time, eh? You can just chop their thumbs off instead… joking joking joking, thumbs should only be chopped accidentally when you’re trying to trim their nails.
How should I clean it?
The trouble with dummies is they get fiddled with and dropped a lot, so you’ll want to have some ready-sterilised ones on hand for the first couple of months and give them a proper wash and sterilise daily (boiling them will do the trick if you don’t have a steriliser). By the time they’re six months or so and putting all sorts of crap in their mouths, you won’t need to be so obsessive. There is SOME evidence that cleaning it with your own gob is just as effective (antibodies in saliva and all that…)… it’s not the official advice but we won’t judge.
When should I use it?
It’s best for it to just be a sleep association, rather than plugging it in every time your little one cries, tempting though it is. The more they use it, the harder it will be to get rid of it further down the line. It can be a very useful part of the bedtime/nap routine, but runs the risk of losing its power if it’s deployed more frequently.
When should I get rid of it?
Official advice is to ditch the dummy between six and twelve months. Many mums keep it for a fair bit longer, basically until they can reason with their child and bring in outlandish plot lines about “dummy fairies” and what not. It turns out toddlers aren’t always that reasonable, though, so err on the side of caution – and expect a telling off from the dentist if you keep it for longer than advised.