Baby’s dummy

Many babies will start sucking their thumb while still in the womb, and they continue to have a strong urge to suck after their birth. Babies will suck when they are hungry, but also when they feel tired or upset. The sucking relaxes and soothes them. There are various “objects” that satisfy a baby’s urge to suck: next to the mother’s breast, dummies are the most frequently used sucking objects, but baby’s thumb, a toy or blanket will do just as well. It is rare that babies do not display any need to suck, and for many babies, the dummy remains a faithful companion throughout their early years. 

Dummy – yes or no?

The pros and cons of using a dummy are still hotly debated and are the subject of many studies. Using a  dummy definitely has advantages and disadvantages: it helps babies fall asleep and calms them down, and the soothing effect of the sucking motion makes it easier for babies to settle for their afternoon nap or their big sleep in the evening. As most babies will find ways to help themselves when it comes to sucking, for instance by focusing on their thumb or a corner of their cuddly blanket, it makes sense to offer them a dummy in the first place.  

On the downside, the dummy also has a reputation of interfering with baby’s jaw development. However, these days, many dummies are designed in cooperation with dentists and orthodontists to ensure that they are anatomically shaped and do not impair healthy jaw development, making them safe to use as soothing objects during baby’s early years.

Which dummy?

Dummies are made either from synthetic silicone or from natural latex (natural rubber). 

While natural latex is a little softer, it may trigger allergies in some babies. Latex teats also have a shorter lifespan than silicone teats as they become porous over time.  

Silicone teats are made from a very dense material and therefore a little less elastic. These teats are easily damaged by little teeth and should therefore be inspected for cracks on a regular basis. If cracks are visible, the dummy should be replaced.  

Ultimately, which material your baby prefers will be a question of personal preference. Have them try a few to see which on they like best!

Weaning toddlers off their dummy

It is recommended to wean children off their dummy between their second and third birthday, as sucking may be harmful for the palate from a certain age. Also ask your GP or dentist for advice. Although weaning toddlers off their dummy can be a stressful affair, it doesn’t have to be. See below for an overview of methods that can help you and your child through this challenging period:

  • Slowly, but steadily reduce the time that your child spends with the dummy and limit its use to certain times of day (for instance bedtime).
  • Give the dummy as a present to another baby and explain to your toddler that the baby needs it much more than they do, as they are now a big girl/boy. 
  • Arrange for a visit of the dummy fairy! Together with your child, place the dummy outside the front door or on the windowsill. The dummy fairy will take it away during the night, leaving a little present instead.