Whether you call it a soother, dummy, pacifier, comforter or binky, you won’t be the first parents to use this comforting item to calm and settle your little one at night.
Sucking is a natural reflex, which babies use to feed and comfort themselves. They may even start sucking their thumb in the womb. While soothers are not an automatic substitute for cuddles, comfort and feeding when your baby is hungry, they are fine for helping them to settle and calm.
If your baby is comforted by sucking, then offering a soother at bedtime can be another tactic to add to cuddling, rocking, singing lullabies and all the other things you do to try and get some sleep.
There are some studies that show that using a soother while your baby sleeps can mean a reduced risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). It’s not clear exactly why this is the case and there’s no need to give your baby a soother to prevent cot death, but it may make you feel a little less guilty if you choose to.
A soother at bedtime may also encourage your baby to soothe themselves back to sleep. But equally, you may find yourself being summoned when they lose it.
Do soothers damage baby’s teeth?
Many parents worry about the effect that soothers can have on little one’s developing teeth and mouth. Look for orthodontic or dentist approved soothers which are shaped to suit your baby’s mouth.
Safety tips when using soothers
- Check your soother regularly and throw away at the first sign of wear
- Don’t dip soothers in anything sweet, including juice
- Keep soothers as clean as possible – sterilise them just as you would a bottle teat
- Choose BPA free soothers designed for your child’s age
Won’t my baby become too attached to a comfort item or soother?
Parents sometimes worry that their child will become so attached to a comforter that they become inconsolable without it. Losing that precious toy or blanky can then become a real source of stress.
If your little one is particularly attached to a comfort item, it’s a good idea to have another one in reserve. Or, if they’re attached to something larger, like a comfort blanket, you may find you can cut it into smaller pieces to have some spares. Remember to alternate them so each comforter is equally worn and picks up the same kind of smells.
Most children will gradually wean themselves off their comfort object, with it gradually becoming less important as they develop their independence. But you may still find the odd much-loved blanky in University halls of residence.