Dummies, Pacifiers – Yes or No?

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Dummies! They’re a bit like marmite, you either love it or hate it! And then there is the daunting task of dummy weaning… Of course some babies suck their fingers or their thumb which means they learn very early to self settle. Some parents don’t like thumb sucking as maybe they’ve been a thumb sucker themselves and remember how hard it was to stop. Some parents don’t like thumb sucking as it can have a detrimental effect on baby’s teeth if they continue sucking their thumb for several years. I do remember working for a dentist years ago and she certainly didn’t want her little one to suck her thumb but was happy with sucking her fingers! However, one of our children sucked his thumb but certainly had no teeth or speech problems.

Some babies just will not take a dummy at all and completely refuse it, or they will have it but not be that happy with it. When it’s like this it’s hardly worth persevering with it.

My Experience with Dummies

I used to really dislike dummy’s and actually I still don’t introduce one to a new baby. The reason for this is that I like a baby to learn to self settle and go to sleep on his own without a prop. However, over the years I’ve worked with families where dummies are used with children and babies. If I go into help a family and mum wants baby to have a dummy then of course I respect that and go with it and we use a dummy. If I’m going to help new parents with a first baby I don’t introduce a dummy.

Should You Use a Dummy?


The plus sides to using a dummy are that if you’ve got a very unsettled baby and you want to soothe him, popping a dummy in may work. He may then settle to sleep quickly and have a good nap.  Also if you’re living in a flat with lots of neighbours around and they can hear baby crying then you may want to use a dummy to stop him crying and it helps you to relax when you know he’s soothed. Some people say that a dummy will help a baby with reflux, but I’m not sure if this is correct.

Another reason that some people use a dummy is that if you have a couple of older children you may want baby to sit in his chair and be settled so a dummy may help with that. Some parents use a dummy to help baby to sleep through the night. You can find when baby is learning to go for a good long stretch at night that by popping in his dummy he will fall back to sleep to his next feed. I’ve used that method years ago when a baby I was looking after woke at 4 am every morning and by popping the dummy in he slept through till 7am.


The negative sides of introducing a dummy are that baby doesn’t learn to self settle and go to sleep without a prop. That is probably my main dislike of them. I’ve seen babies become very reliant on a dummy, so when baby wakes after each sleep cycle, instead of learning to resettle himself, he is reliant on the dummy. However, if you want to use it just to settle him and then not use it again during that nap then that’s fine, as baby doesn’t come to rely on it.

Dummies can also be dirty and need to be sterilised and kept clean. As a child gets older the dummy often drops out onto the floor or pavement and straight back into the child’s mouth, not very hygienic really! The constant use of a dummy can hamper speech development. Speech therapists are not keen on dummies at all and see so many children with speech issues due to constant use of a dummy. It’s not a nice thing to see toddlers and older children with dummies in their mouths when they’re out and about. So my advice to parents is, don’t introduce a dummy unless you really want to because at some stage you will want to take it away! The other thing that so many parents ask me is “If I use a dummy, how am I going to take it away, and when?”. The difficulties of dummy weaning can be daunting.

Dummy Weaning

I often say if you want to use the dummy just to settle baby that’s fine as he’ll probably grow out of it and may drop it himself. By the time baby is about 4 months old he will often love to have a comforter such as a cuddly blanket, toy or muslin – making dummy weaning easier. Some babies will move happily to a little comfort blanket and drop the dummy by themselves. However, many babies who are completely reliant on a dummy to settle and sleep with will need this for some time to come. Especially if they don’t know another way to settle. The problem comes when baby is older and continually wakes in the night for his dummy and you find yourself in and out of bed all night. This can happen from the time he’s about 3 months old, and it can become a problem. Just the time they should be having good long stretches of sleep at night they’re waking for the dummy! Whatever their age, when they are waking on and off all night for the dummy, you may want to go cold turkey and take it away. However, I’ve known babies to carry on having a dummy and mummy has clipped it to his night clothes. Obviously he is older then and can find his dummy in the night if he wakes and needs it.

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