The Dummy, Pacifier, Binky whatever your word for it, it is often viewed as parental marmite. Love it or loathe it, everyone’s got an opinion on the use of a dummy. Some babies need them, some babies don’t. There are lots of arguments both for and against the dummy but they don’t really matter; it’s a personal decision between you and your baby. From my personal and professional experience, I have seen that a dummy can be a really useful tool to calm and soothe your baby but I also have seen how a dummy can actually cause more sleep issues than it solves.
So if you do choose to use a pacifier here is a handy guide on how to get the best use out of it, how to avoid an overreliance on it and how to get rid of it when the time comes!
Here’s the how, why, what ,when guide to the dummy:
- It’s safer. The regular use of a dummy has been found in several studies to be associated with a lower risk of SIDS, although it is not clear exactly why this is. The safest way to use a dummy is to first wait until breastfeeding or feeding has been established and give your baby a dummy without a cord or dummy clip at the beginning of every nap or at bedtime.
- Use it at the correct point. To avoid a reliance on the dummy only give your baby the dummy for the first sleep cycle, if he spits it out or loses it then you don’t offer it to them again. This will help him learn how to resettle himself back to sleep.
- As soon as you are able to, teach your baby how to put in their own dummy. Hand your baby the dummy to play and practice putting it in their own mouth. If your baby is able to put in their own dummy this will help avoid you trudging down the hallway at 3am to replug it.
- Only use the dummy at nap or nighttime and not during the day unless wind or other tummy discomfort requires it. This will prevent an overreliance on it and enable your baby to communicate with you.
- Get LOADS! If your baby does rely on a dummy for comfort and to settle to sleep it goes without saying that the absence of it is going to cause some issues! So buy lots, buy spares, buy spares for those spares and put them all in the cot to make it easier for them to find them.If you are ready to ditch the dummy then here are the methods that we recommend:
- Cold turkey
The most appropriate method for younger babies as it is the easiest to understand. Once you have decided to ditch the dummy throw them away, all of them so you won’t be tempted to give in when times get tough! You will need to temporarily replace the dummy with another comfort or something to help them learn to fall asleep without it. The pram, a cuddle, a comfort blanket can be used to help them transition to a dummy free sleep. Be prepared that this is the toughest method but it will also take the shortest time – be strong and he’ll have forgotten about it by the end of the week.
- Gradual withdrawal. Suitable for all ages but more difficult for younger babies to understand. Essentially this method involves giving them the dummy less and less. Limit it’s use to nap time and bedtime but each time that you go to replug wait a minute before doing so, then increase this time while shushing/cuddling them to comfort. One you have removed the ‘replug’ then start to remove it from each nap and at bedtime, waiting longer before giving it, allowing them to settle themselves to sleep. Most babies are more receptive to it at bedtime so start there.
- The Dummy Fairy or equivalent. This method works better for older babies and toddlers that can understand the concept but you could use a similar method for younger babies.
Explain that the Dummy Fairy is coming soon to take your dummy away because now you are a big girl/boy you don’t need it. You’ll know when they have been because they will leave a tiny hole in it. So each night/day put a pin hole into the dummy which will make the dummy lose it’s suction. Do this each day for a countdown of as many days as you think would be appropriate. Some children decide that they don’t want it anymore because it doesn’t work as well and give it up. But others are less keen to part with it! So then you need to take it away. You could replace it with a new teddy or other toy – I find this makes the exchange a lot more palatable!
So there you have it – the guide to the dummy; when to use it, how to avoid a reliance on it and how to get rid of it when you feel the time is right!
Gemma at Baby Tech Support
23rd May 2016