A dummy belongs to many parents for the healthy development of their baby. After all, we are born with the sucking reflex, which is essential for nourishment. However, if used for too long, a soother can start to cause damage to speech development and learning to swallow.
For experts, to use or not is a personal choice, to be made by parents. There is no right or wrong, but they should know the risks and receive guidance to make an informed decision.
Use of Dummies
The use of a soother is useful in many ways for your baby. Above all the soothing effect of a soother dramatically helps the child’s well-being. The so-called sucking reflex produces endorphin, a hormone that gives the feeling of comfort and relaxation and aids digestion. Finally, it is especially beneficial for premature babies, who with the help of a soother can be fed more quickly with a bottle.
Thanks to its soothing power, the baby soother is perfect for helping to fall asleep and great consolation in moments of pain in the first years. One should not, however, give a soother immediately after birth, as this could cause problems with breastfeeding. Because of the soft suction of the dummy, the child tends not to make enough effort to suck at the breast, and thus the mother’s body will not have enough stimulus for milk production.
Soother effect and use at a glance
- Soothing effect
- Comforting effect
- Helps to fall asleep
- Stimulates digestion
- Especially good at bedtime and after breastfeeding
Does the dummy soothe the baby?
It does. Non-nutritive sucking is one of the little ones’ strategies to relax in tense moments. And many mothers end up resorting to it because it is impossible to breastfeed their children 24 hours a day. In this case, it really does act as a comfort. But, according to the specialists, considering the pros and cons of its use, it is also worth understanding the context in which the baby needs to be calmed down, precisely so that the dummy does not become a solution for everything.
Parents must keep in mind that it is a phase and that there are other ways to comfort, especially in the first three months of life, such as skin-to-skin contact, the use of slings, lullabies, and rocking.
Soother material, size & shape
The material, size as well as the shape of the soother depend entirely on the preferences of the child. Concerning the shape, e.g. flat, cherry or drop shape, the most important thing is that the child feels comfortable with it.
Many parents prefer a shape that does justice to the jaw, which is slightly flat and matches the shape of the roof of the mouth perfectly. Also with regard to the material, it is best to find out what your baby likes best. The size, however, should always be in accordance with the development and age of the child. If there is no danger of malformation of the jaw or of the baby swallowing the dummy.
Know the right size of the dummy
The right dummy size depends on the age of the child. Therefore it is important to change the dummy size after 6 and 18 months. A very big dummy you recognize when the sucking part does not enter completely into the mouth and a piece of silicone or latex sticks out. The change from a dummy to a bigger one should take place during the day, so you can observe your baby’s behaviour with the dummy close-up.
- Size 1: 0 – 6 Months
- Size 2: 6 – 18 Months
- Size 3: from 18 Months
Finger sucking is a great alternative to a soother for babies. Finger sucking is practically an innate reflex, since from the stomach, more or less from the fifth month, babies have the impulse to suck their thumb.
For this reason, many children prefer sucking the finger instead of the Dummies. In the first instance, this circumstance seems to be even more natural and healthy for the baby.
Dummy or finger-sucking?
With the question: dummy or finger-sucking, tempers are divided. In general, sucking the thumb is more practical for the child, since it is always available, cannot fall on the ground, and does not need to be attached to the child’s clothes. Besides, the child will not come into contact with plastic or harmful materials. On the other hand, sucking the finger for a long time may cause malformation of the jaw or prevent the correct growth of the teeth, as this does not correspond to the natural shape of the mouth.
The need to suck is part of the normal development of babies and is usually supplied by breastfeeding on free demand. Some Society of Pediatrics points out that sucking the thumb around two months of age is normal and that there is no benefit in offering the dummy as an alternative. The entity recommends that parents use strategies such as offering teethers and rattles instead of the thumb.
The problem is when these mechanisms are used for a long time and after the transition phase is over. Then the risk of dental malocclusion and other oral and respiratory problems increases. Independently of what the parents decide, the dependence on both can be a sign that something is affecting the child’s psychology. It is necessary to evaluate if the habit is not replacing closer contact with the family and other emotional issues. Experts advise, for these reasons, the use of an orthodontic dummy.
Removing the dummy
After the child’s first two years the soother shall be taken away little by little to avoid teething problems or deformation of the jaw. “Develop this project”, but slowly and not abruptly, after all, your baby has to go through a process of separation from something which until then helped him faithfully in difficult times.
It is advisable to associate the end of the soother era with positive events. Also, alternatives for consolation, such as a cuddly blanket or a teddy bear, are a good help. The important thing is to go slowly and, in principle, only take the Dummies out for a few hours.
The right age to take the Dummies out
The perfect moment to take out the Dummies does not exist. Normally, parents themselves develop a sense of this and can tell when their little treasure is ready to give up Dummies. Experts advise doing this until, at the most, 3 years of age, because from then on the risks of malformation increase.
When relapses come
Relapses in the process of removing the Dummies are supernormal and nothing to panic about. Even more stressful moments, it can happen that your baby asks for the dear dummy. In this case, stay calm and show tolerance. In general, understanding, tact, and incentives help more than a strict prohibition.