The decision to finally admit that the dummy is not helping your baby’s sleep is a tough one. I’ve had another tough week of removing dummies from babies, who are addicted to them as a sleep association, and they’ve failed to help the bubba’s stay asleep!
So this blog is especially for Miss Ruby and Miss Elsie and their mummies <3 They’re on their way to being dummy free but it’s not been easy.
Before I go on I do not love or hate the dummy/pacifier. They have their uses and can be very very useful for a lot of babies and their parents. My niece Gemma had several until she was 5 years old (she’s now 26) and my other niece Freya had one till 2 years old.
What are they useful for?
- Babies who cry a lot (for whatever reason)
- Colic and tummy troubles
- Premature babies – it helps their suck reflex and may reduce the risk of SIDS (see link below)
- Sleep associations
Babies that have tummy troubles benefit from sucking to aid pain relief. It soothes them and releases endorphins those feel good love hormones. Babies with reflux find them helpful as it helps milk flow better and faster through the digestive system and helps with wind pain. These babies have a notoriously sluggish digestive system.
The dummy has also been linked to better cardiac control and so linked with a reduction in SIDS. This ABC news article give more detail: http://www.abc.net.au/science/articles/2013/05/06/3751068.htm#.UatBS5XB_8s
Australian researcher Associate Professor Rosemary Horne, of the Monash Institute of Medical Research says epidemiological studies have consistently shown dummy use protects against Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). However, she says, how the soother does this has been unclear.
So when are they not helpful?
- Sleep – if they fall out every 20-40 minutes and need to be replaced for the baby to go back to sleep again.
- Breast feeding – they may reduce milk supply in a young baby as the dummy can replace a feed that is needed.
- Speech development – Children over 2 years old that speak ‘through’ the dummy and don’t remove them to speak may/will have some speech issues, often a lisp. More on that at these two links:
- Babies who have a lot of wind and suck a lot on a dummy causing more wind/gas.
- Thrush and infections – if not sterilised regularly (daily for young babies) thrush/candida can occur (see my previous blog on babies and thrush).
- If they’re used past school age when the 2nd teeth erupt.
And the piece de la resistance of all things dummy …
When I first trained as a Health Visitor/Child & Family Health Nurse we had it drilled into us that we must tell parents not to suck on a dirty dummy. Parents were advised to clean it and then put it back in baby’s mouth. The reason being, bad bacteria were getting passed on (oral tooth decay germs) that could cause tooth decay in your baby.
Well that has been well and truly turned on its head. Isn’t it funny how things turn full circle?
Now it is thought that very thing, sucking on your baby’s dummy and replacing it, may be a really really good thing! Yes really! Swedish researchers claim that infants whose parents clean their dummies by sucking on them might be less likely to develop allergies because of how their parents’ saliva changes the babies’ oral flora.
The researchers found that 65 out of the 184 babies in the study whose parent sucked on their pacifiers to clean them were significantly less likely to get eczema and asthma – two conditions caused by allergic/immune system reactions – than babies whose parents didn’t use that cleaning method. And interestingly, mums who delivered vaginally tend to favour the cleaning practice than C-section mums.
The humble dummy may have a lot more going for it than against it.
There’s one thing I need to add … Try not to use it too much as a sleep association tool.
Try and settle baby without it before 4 months and you may very well avoid that troublesome 4 month sleep regression.
Members of my Nurture Sleep Program will confirm I’ve helped them resolve dummy issues and you can get the same support when you join.
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What do you parents out there think? Dummy or no dummy? Are they helpful or a nightmare in waiting…send your comments my way.
And I guess this links into the dummy or thumb debate! But that is most definitely for another day!