Many parents ask us advice about the use of dummies in babies and toddlers. Like many things there is a bit of controversy about their use and they have come in and out of fashion over the years. So what do you need to know about dummies?
Many parents find a dummy very useful for assistance in settling a young baby. New babies are very hungry little people so its good to remember if you are using a dummy in the early months that an unsettled baby is often just hungry again (they are on the highest growth trajectory of their life in the early weeks and months)!! However some babies in particular need a lot of soothing and a dummy can be a very helpful, safe and effective way of helping a young baby settle.
When choosing a dummy look for the following features:
- a one-piece model with a soft nipple (2 piece models can be a choking hazard).
- a firm plastic shield (more that 3cm across) with air holes.
- The prolonged and overuse of dummies can have a negative impact on speech development.
During the first 12 months of a child’s life a baby is learning skills which will prepare them for saying their first words and developing speech.Babies are always putting things in their mouth and will be learning to use their tongue and jaw. They will try to imitate the sounds in speech that they hear and early speech is full of coos and babbling. It is really important to try not to ‘leave’ a dummy in a babies mouth so they have plenty of opportunity to develop the critical skills they will need to learn to talk properly. Similarly getting your baby to try new foods with different textures will help them learn to use their tongue and mouth in different ways as well (never mind the mess!!).
Prolonged dummy use (after 12 months and especially after 18 months) has an impact on the development of the s,z,ch,t,d, and n sounds with ‘s’ sounding like ‘th’. Dummy use beyond this time can also affect the positioning of the teeth as they form and lead to orthodontic problems. With regards dental issues the length of time the dummy is in the mouth has the most impact so a baby who sleeps all night with a dummy is the most at risk for dental problems.
Here are some great websites for further reference:
Make an appointment online or on 32570841 if you would like to discuss with a doctor any other child health related issues.
Dr. Fiona is an experienced general practitioner with special interest in Women’s health and child health. She welcomes discussion on a wide range of health related topics.