One of the many baby essentials you’ve surely have been considering buying at the store is the dummy. But should you buy it or not?
The benefits of the dummy have been questioned many times along the years, not just by parents but also by doctors and experts. Recommendations on how is best to raise a baby change sometimes, and the dummy debate has gone back and forth several times.
We at CaptainMums are going to try to shed some light over the convenience or the inconvenience of using dummies or pacifiers so you can make an informed decision. Don’t miss the following lines!
What’s the purpose of the dummy?
The purpose of the dummy can be found in one of its other names, pacifier. As it indicates, it’s an object to give the baby some peace, and object that will soothe them or calm them down. That is what the dummy is for, as well as the reason why parents use it.
And why does it soothe the baby? Well, the baby has a need of suctioning that is very strong during the first months of life: it is a congenital instinct that helps them survive, since they will have to suction in order to be fed. The dummy covers this need of suctioning while the baby’s not eating.
What are the benefits of the dummy?
Using a dummy has many advantages and benefits for our little ones, the first one being its main purpose: soothing the baby or helping them sleep. However, those are not the only benefits. Dummies can also serve for the following:
- They can help regulate the baby’s schedule and sleeping patterns – but be careful with the introduction of the dummy if you are breastfeeding. We’ll talk in detail about it later on.
- They also soothe them when they’re in pain, for instance, due to baby colic or teething. However, the dummy isn’ good for baby colic, since it can increase the amount of gas in their intestines and make it worse. It can help for teething and for other painful moments, like when they are receiving their vaccines.
- They will avoid your little one sucking his thumb instead – of course, they can still substitute the pacifier with the thumb once we make them ditch it, but, yet, they may not.
- For babies who are born premature, dummies are especially good: It has been proven that preemies who use a dummy spend less time in the hospital. Some brands produce special premature baby dummies, in a smaller size.
- Some studies state that using a dummy helps prevent Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). However, the proof isn’t that consistent and there are other ways of preventing this rare but terrible turn of events.
What are the disadvantages?
We’ve said before that over the years, there have been many doctors and experts which have stated that using the dummy isn’t good for babies. That wouldn’t have happened if using them didn’t have disadvantages as well! If you’re planning on giving a dummy to your baby, you should consider the following as well:
- It can affect the structure of his mouth: an excessive use of the dummy could change the shape of your little one’s palate, which could alter the course of the mucus along the Eustachian tubes. It may also affect the way their teeth grow, ending in them not closing their mouth entirely well.
- Using the dummy makes it easier for bacteria to spread from the baby’s mouth to the bordering tubes, that is, the throat and even the ears, which could result in infections. Of course, you always need to make sure that the dummy is sterilised – you can read how to do it in our article about sterilising baby bottles and dummies.
- Some studies have linked an overuse of the dummy with delays in speech development.
Most of these disadvantages are more related to the overuse of the dummy than to the dummy itself, so if you limit its use to sleep time, when it has proven to be most useful due to its calming effect on the baby, you may avoid these unwanted side effects. However, when doing so, don’t dip the dummy in anything sweet, since that may provoke tooth decay.
When should I give a dummy to my baby?
It depends. If you are breastfeeding your baby, experts recommend to wait for a month, since that is the time you will need to establish breastfeeding. If you are bottle feeding, you can start from the moment your baby’s born.
Does the dummy interfere with successful breastfeeding?
It doesn’t have to, if you wait a month before giving it to the baby for the first time. At that point, your milk supply will have already been stablished. However, the use of dummies for breastfed babies could still have an effect: the baby could ‘forget’ how to suck from your breast afterwards.
There is another factor to consider: since the dummy will be partly satisfying the baby’s need of sucking, they may latch for a shorter time, which may affect your production of milk (the more they suck, the more you make!). The convenience of using a dummy will depend on your baby’s particular situation. For instance, if your baby has trouble putting on weight and you feel that he eats less because of the dummy, it may be better not to use it. Some mummies even use the breast as a sort of breastfeeding dummy!
Is there anything else to consider regarding the use of the dummy?
As we’ve stated before, don’t dip it into anything sweet, which would affect your little one’s nutrition besides causing tooth decay. Keep the dummy clean and sterilised, and check it frequently to see if it’s still in good conditions – and, of course, change it for a new one if it’s not. Here you have a few more tips regarding baby dummies.
Don’t force your baby into using a dummy if they don’t want to, and start working on ditching it before they are one years old, to avoid some of the bad side effects mentioned before, such as the deformation of the palate.
Well, now that you know everything there is to know about the dummy, will you be using it or not? Don’t forget to share your experiences and recommendations in the comments!