The lowdown on dummies

Emmy Samtani

Emmy Samtani

Emmy is the founder of Kiindred and mother to 3 little ones. Over the last 4 years, she has worked with some of the most credible experts in the parenting space and is a keen contributor on all things parenthood.
Updated on Jun 14, 2024 · 5 mins read
The lowdown on dummies

My eldest 2 were dummy babies. They took to it easily once I made the decision to offer it to them but with number 3, she just wouldn’t have a bar of it. On the few occasions that I tried to tempt her with it, she just spat it out and gagged. This suited me perfectly as I secretly wanted to put my settling techniques to the test and see if I could get by without it.

I have well and truly sat on the fence each time and debated on whether or not I wanted them to have it. After weighing up the pros and cons, I eventually succumbed to the 6-week ‘alertness’ with my first 2. I just felt it was time to start offering the dummy as a soother in place of my boob. I wish I had more time to be attached by the breast but the reality is – I don’t!

It’s funny the stigma that surrounds dummies. I always found myself making excuses when my little ones had their dummy outside of sleep time. This wasn’t very often but there were definitely occasions where it was needed to get them into the car seat or keep quiet in the cafe!

Now, every baby is different and there is definitely no ‘one size fits all’ approach. I’m a huge believer in having all the information so that you can make an informed decision for yourself and one that feels right for you.

So, if you have a newly alert baby, are wondering what on earth to do or are sitting on the fence like me – read on.

What the experts say

The dummy can be an incredibly useful tool if used correctly. Not only does it help to comfort and soothe your baby, but it can also be a great settling tool. By offering the dummy at sleep times, it will reduce your little one’s dependency on you or the breast for falling back asleep. As they get older, they will be able to put it back in themselves and resettle back off to sleep, unassisted.

When can I introduce one?

A lot of parents generally find themselves introducing the dummy at around the 6-week mark. This is when there is a new alertness that can make it harder to settle your little one for sleep.

Mothercraft Nurse, Chris Minogue suggests waiting until this 6-week mark (where possible) for breastfed babies. This will ensure that feeding is established well and will help to avoid any nipple confusion.

Whilst popping a dummy in can be a really easy way to pacify your baby, ensure this isn’t replacing feeds as a result. Between 0-6 weeks, your baby should be leading with regards to feeding, so you will need to look for signs that they have been well fed. Signs may include: your breast has completely softened, your baby is relaxed and content or there has been no more than 3-4 hours between feeds.

Choosing the right dummy for my baby

Like anything, there are a lot of options on the market! This can make quite a simple task of buying a dummy quite confusing. There are the oversized natural rubber type, glow in the dark options, round teats and some that even pop back into themselves when dropped for hygiene.

The most important thing to consider is to ensure it has an age-appropriate nipple – that can actually stay in your baby’s mouth! Some of the natural types on the market can be quite large in size which makes it hard for teeny babies to keep in.

Setting up good habits

If you have a young baby, try to use the dummy as a settling tool only. Over time, this will ensure your baby understands it is a sleeping aid. While it’s tempting to have it with you when out and about, try to remember to use it as an aid for settling – rather than for keeping your baby quiet.

If you have an older child that is starting to use it more and more, we would suggest creating a new routine with their dummy. You can do this by keeping it in a container in the bedroom and making them throw their dummy in the container before getting out of their cot. This is what I did with my second born and it works a treat!

When the dummy becomes an issue

As your baby gets older, they may start to form a new attachment to their dummy. You may notice that they are playing or walking around with it in their mouth, yet it isn’t really serving a purpose. The important thing for consideration is your toddler’s speech and teeth development, as this can be compromised by dummy use as they get older.

Our top tips…

The pros

  • The dummy is a great tool to settle your baby for sleep
  • It can be a soothing aid during times of distress
  • Mama gets a break from offering boob as a soother
  • Helps with ‘fussy’ period or when you can’t physically be with your baby all the time

The cons

  • Having to replace it when it falls out in the night (younger babies)
  • Your little one can become quite dependent on it
  • If lost it can cause distress (for all) until it is replaced
  • Having to steralise them frequently when they are under 6 months

If you do decide to go ahead and use a dummy, be sure to have spares on hand. There is nothing worse than being caught out with a lost dummy and a little one that depends on it. If you are yet to introduce one, it might be reassuring to keep one on hand. You may never need to use it but it’s good to know it’s there should you be faced with an extremely unsettled baby.

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