Would you… Use a Dummy?

One of Bea’s most/least endearing behaviours is her vast repertoire of noises, made mostly when asleep in her crib, leaving me wide awake at night. She doesn’t do it as much in the day as she is often either in my arms or in the sling and having listened to these noises extensively over the last 7 weeks, they seem to mainly be made when she is getting herself to sleep or in light sleep. It’s probably the only thing about having her that has been a challenge so far, as it’s so frustrating to listen to when I’m trying to get a couple of hours sleep before the next feed!

When I was little I had a dummy, so did my sister and like so many things pre-baby, I never really had a problem with them before. I still don’t on other children. The only time I register it really is when you see some kids with a dummy in 24/7, but really, each to their own. One long night listening to her I thought, I wonder if a dummy will keep her quiet? She’s not a particularly ‘sucky’ baby and doesn’t for example need to fall asleep on the breast, she will happily be rocked off cuddling or in the last week or two in her crib by herself at night. But, if you put a finger in her mouth she will also drift off sucking that too and even better, soundlessly!

There’s a lot of chatter about dummies – some people just don’t like them, there’s the ongoing debate over whether it can cause ‘nipple confusion‘ in breast feeding babies and also if it can reduce feeding demand because the suck reflex is overused. It’s often recommended that you don’t use them before a certain age (6 weeks minimum) too. On top of all that is the whole dummy versus thumb discussion and which is better for a developing mouth and teeth? (FYI – Bea has found her thumb and does suck it but not at any particular time or as a comforter particularly…) I actually bought some dummies before Bea arrived and now I kind of don’t want to use them. Pete is dead against it as he feels it is too early and we’ll never get her to give the dummy up. Typically Pete’s judgement isn’t coloured by lack of sleep as he has ear plugs in when he is working the next day! My thoughts were that it would simply be a night time thing to get her to keep quiet (if it worked at all!) and drift off quicker so I could get more sleep. But would it then become something she was dependent on to sleep and cause her to wake if it fell out etc? Would I be making a rod for my own back?

So readers, I thought this was a good topic for discussion today… would you or have you given your child a dummy? Are you happy with that decision? Why did you give it and did it work? I’d love to hear your experiences…


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40 thoughts on “Would you… Use a Dummy?

  1. I am really… I don’t know what the word is…. about dummies but basically I think it’s one of those things that can be overthought.

    M would never take one, had no interest at all until he was about eight weeks old when a dummy became the only way he would nap. Then at about 4 months he lost interest again (except to throw it at the radiator to get our attention!). Maybe we had an easy experience of it as he just gave it up on his own. It used to drop our of his mouth when he fell asleep and we didn’t have to keep giving it to him in the night/during naps.

    It’s one of those things that comes under the ‘do what you have to do’ heading for me. If it will help you get more sleep and make your baby happy, do it. Like most things with babies, it’s only ever for now.

    Also, just remembered that offering a dummy at sleep time is one of the ‘safe sleep’ guidelines against SIDS. Worth considering in weighing up against any negatives.

      • I was told by my health visitor that if I gave one for day time sleeps (we have a little boy that is not keen on napping and I thought I would try it) then we would have to give one at EVERY sleep including night time as they breathe differently (or sleep differently??) with the dummy and therefore if they don’t have it in some of their sleeps there is an increased risk of SIDS. If they have one at every sleep then I think it can reduce the risk. I didn’t want him to start relying on it at night time so opted out (he also threw it across his cot when I tried it anyway!)
        Does that make sense?

        • The lullaby trust say that research shows a dummy can reduce risk. It doesn’t say anything about every sleep/not every sleep reducing the risk so not sure about that.

          Theres info on the lullaby trust website.

          • Such an important charity. I know there are real positives to them reducing the risks. My health visitor did tell me that but also scared me when she told me it would need to be used at every sleep – just in case he was dependent on it to be in the ‘right kind of sleep’ (can’t remember what she actually called it. Which is why I didn’t do it in the end – he did’n’t need it all the time. I would need to ask to be sure of her actual explanation/information. Wouldn’t want to give the wrong facts or advice on here!

      • Hi

        SIDS thing is to do with how babies sleep…basically current theory is they shouldn’t sleep too deeply…..dummies/pacifiers prevent this. Current thought on formula feeds is baby so sated that sleep too deeply there fore increase risk of SIDS…apparently talks going on with manufacturers to see if this is addressable. My 4 year old had a dummy to pacify and rejected it from 5mths. My 21mth old started on dummy cos of SIDS advice still has it at night….we enforce this as otherwise would have all day! Haven’t replaced dummies in last 8mth so getting smaller relative to her and often come out and doesn’t cause her to awake. Really tricky everyone has an opinion….my theory with 2 very different children. ….use to pacify but not to stop chattering/babbling.

        • I have never heard SIDS being linked with formula feeding. It would be useful to link to the research so it can be substantiated as that statement is quite inflammatory and could cause anxiety and worry. Sorry I don’t mean to be critical in any way

  2. Do what works for you. My two have both been “sucky” babies – my eldest took to a dummy well and it was such a relief to be able to settle her with one relatively quickly. Then after being a total dummy fiend (we limited use to naps or illnesses as much as possible) she gave them up proactively at 2.5 – one morning she came downstairs and said that her dummies were for the new baby and she didn’t need them anymore. The new baby isn’t so keen on dummies however! Sometimes she will take one sometimes not. She has found her thumb though and I can see that being much harder to give up!

    • I read that thumb sucking isn’t as much of an issue if it’s a comfort thing but if a child sucks vigorously they are more likely to cause problems to their developing mouth and teeth.

      I wouldn’t worry about stopping the thumb sucking… most kids stop at school if not before as they simply don’t need the comfort.

      • Well, that is good to hear. My husband did suck his thumb into school age which worries me, but as you point out, probably for other reasons not genetic ones!

  3. I never had one or sucked my thumb so it’s something I wouldn’t think about but like Fee, I guess it’s a do what you have to do thing. I have no problem with them per se but my cousin did give one to her newborn at 8 hours old which caused a few raised eyebrows….how can you know what your baby wants at such a young age.

    I must admit to preferring dummies over thumb sucking as dummies can be removed at a later date….whereas once a toddler sucks its thumb, it can do so (I would imagine) for longer as its always there.

  4. Oh the mixed feelings regarding dummies. I was strongly against using one at the beginning, because I didn’t want her to get the famous nipple confusion and have her refuse to breastfeed, and because I had read the “danger” of babies getting addicted to them. We didn’t even buy them before she was here, but we did have a couple that came in those goodie sample boxes that you get from drugstores.

    But Yu was a colicky baby and sometimes the sucking did soothe her. When my mum used a pacifier on her, I would have to fight the tears, asjk her not to do it, feeling guilty even when I saw it actually helped her.

    Eventually (at about 3 months) I gave in as I discovered that babies need to suck for soothing purposes and sometimes even when I offered the breast for comfort she would not want the milk that came with it (and also because we were spacing feeds every 3 hrs, max 2, to prevent her colic from getting worse). So we started using the pacifier but only for “emergency” situations (to calm her down at very fussy moments) and sometimes, to help her sleep. (Not really to shut her up though). She is able to sleep without it as well, but it does make the process easier and faster. And, she actually spits it out once she is asleep. Or once she is in deep sleep you can take it out and she will not wake up.

    She only accepts a “Soothie” from Phillips, it is the pacifiers used at the hospital. She still has the one that we took back with her and we ordered a couple more in the bigger sizes. I think they use them at the NICU because like Fee said they seem to diminish the risk of SIDS . We do not use it during awake times and hope she will outgrow it. I have heard stories (like Sian’s above) that at some point babies just inform you when they decide they don’t want / need them anymore (she already throws it now, when she does not want it).

    My French aunt said something like “C’est un service, pas un vice” (something like it’s a service, a help, not a vice). And we have discovered it helps her, and it was really of aid when she suffered from colic, to calm down and get some rest.

    • Just to say, Amanda, Stella was exactly the same as Yu. Colicky, wanted boob but didn’t need milk, would exhaust herself (and us!) screaming. We ‘caved’ (as I saw it at the time) at 5 weeks and within 24 hours we knew we’d done the right thing for us.
      As it happened, she cut her first teeth at 14 weeks old and completely ‘forgot’ how to use the dummy. She also stopped sucking her thumb and taking a bottle, not so awesome. Bloody teeth! So I guess like Fi, my experience is slightly coloured by how ‘easy’ it was to lose the dummy.
      To my mind, if you try it and it works – brilliant. They change so fast you don’t know when she’ll stop needing it do there’s no sense in worrying about ‘sending the dummies to the babies who don’t have any’ when she’s 3 (what my parents had to do with my brother. Literally had to post the dummies into a letterbox

  5. We use dummies all the time in hospital to comfort babies whom it may not be appropriate to feed, or who have to be tube fed for a while. For my own son I was totally happy to try them. At first he wasn’t keen but then we got some slightly different shapes and now they are great for getting him to nap. He is a very ‘sucky’ baby and hasn’t ever settled himself to sleep without sucking / rocking/ feeding. I went to a la lech league meeting where one of the mums said that from about 6 months she tied a muslin to the dummy that her baby would then hold. When the time came , she simply took the dummy off the muslin, but continued to give baby the muslin instead…. A trick I’m storing up for the future!
    Gregor also was a very noisy sleeper in the first weeks. I sometimes thought he’d been swapped for a piglet! However this completely stopped between 10 and 12 weeks and now he sleeps quietly and soundly. Hopefully abea will do the same.

    • Jo, F was one of those babies you mentioned and it always grated on me that they gave him a dummy without asking me. You explaining that has made me feel so much better. Thank you.

  6. Both my girls had dummies, mostly as a sleep cue and I was fairly ambivalent about them both before and after birth!. My first did become very attached to it for sleep and I was terrified about giving it up, but the first night I tried it she barely noticed it was gone (after a new teddy bribe had been given!). I’d agree with others that there is no harm in trying it and you’ve lost nothing if it doesn’t work. Also my first was a noisy sleeper too and I ended up using ear plugs (and I’ve since discovered a number of other mums did too – I didn’t tell anyone at the time as I was worried about being a neglectful mother, but oh, I so needed sleep!). I guess I started about when she was 7 / 8 weeks old so I was accustomed to her waking-for-a-feed noise and somehow I managed to sleep through the snorts and snuffles but wake when she needed a feed – and always before she started crying for one.

    Re SIDS – I think it is because a dummy is thought to keep them in a slightly lighter sleep but if I remember rightly, I think it is just a correlation rather than a definite causal link.

  7. Holden had a dummy and like others have said I would just go with what works for you and try not to worry too much about it. Lots of my friends have babies that wont take them / dont like them so it really does depend on the baby.

    I was against them at first but when he was 2 weeks old and wanting to feed constantly, I had had enough. He was clearly not feeding all the time and just wanted to comfort suck so we tried a dummy and never looked back, even my health visitor said there was no way he was feeding that long and clearly just liked to suck.

    I didn’t confuse him with feeding at all and he always make it clear when he needed fed instead of the comfort. I breastfed till he was 16 months so it definitely didn’t confuse him at all.

    He had it till he was exactly 2 as he had started biting through them and we had to throw them away. One day we made the mistake of chucking one out without checking we had more so that was it, he saw it being thrown away and we told him there were no more and that was fine. It ended up being surprisingly easy for us as I had envisaged a much worse time.

    The few times we took him on long haul flights before he was 2, the dummy was really helpful for his ears as well so we were glad he had it then too.

    Im currently pregnant again, 17 weeks with baby 2 and this time we will buy some beforehand and see what happens. Once / if breastfeeding is established / successful again i wouldn’t hesitate to give one again if he / she will take it / wants one.

    • Also sorry for the long comment but as for brands etc we went with the same one as the bottles we had assuming then at least those teats would be the same. Whenever I had to express / leave Holden he didn’t have a problem taking the bottles.

  8. Calum started with a dummy (against what I wanted to do after he was born) about 12 weeks old, when it was really the only way to settle him into sleep. Most of the time, when we came up to bed around 10pm, it was out of his mouth and he was fast asleep. It didn’t use it in the day much, again, just to drift off, but then, he had chicken pox at 8 months, and after that, probably due to all the pox in his little mouth (and hardly any elsewhere), he didn’t want it. I was actually glad we never had to go through the “giving it to the ducks or fairies” stage 🙂 Am I against them now should I have another? I don’t know. I’m now a firm believer about what’s best at the time is best.

  9. I’ve never used one with my 2 year old. I think it’s just another thing you have to wean off. Having said that there were times leading up to his first birthday when I’d have done anything for a decent sleep! it is a shame to see kids with them in during the day outside nap times.

  10. My second baby( a very long time ago now!) was noisy as she slept too.So I used ear plugs- blocked the going to sleep / sleeping sounds perfectly.But I always heard her when she cried.

  11. First of all A did that grunting at night thing – I was told it might be wind (not that it’s hurting them like trapped wind but just that them making the noise helps it move) so she should grow out of it in a few weeks. I remember how annoying it was though because I would always think she might be waking up and it was hard to get to sleep next to her!

    We used a dummy from about 4 weeks until about 9 weeks when she found her thumb and decided she didn’t like dummies any more. Mr W was very against them, I was pretty neutral and my sister had bought us some in a pre-birth survival pack saying ‘you never know’! One night after A had been screaming for 6 hours straight and I was downstairs on the sofa while she was in her pram I decided to try it and she went straight to sleep. We used them for nighttime and the odd daytime nap. As others have said – try it if you want to, it doesn’t mean you have to carry on with it if you don’t like it, and she may well decide herself that she doesn’t want them after a while. Sucking for comfort is a reflex and they lose that particular reflex at 4 months apparently so that may be the time to start thinking about breaking the habit if you want to. MAM ones are a nice shape and you can sterilise them in their case in the microwave if you’re not sterilising loads of bottles every day.

    Good luck!

  12. I do use a dummy with Phoebe (she’s nearly 9 months) just for nap times and bed times as a sleep cue. I really didn’t want to but she’s such a sucky baby it gives her so much comfort. She sleeps without it usually for her morning nap and always drops off in the car without it but definitely needs it for lunchtime nap and bedtime. It also really helps when we’re out and about as Pheebs struggles to sleep anywhere but the cot. (Unless I don’t want her to fall asleep in the car then she’s out for the count but that’s a whole other story!!)

    It’s an area for me I’ve never been totally happy about- although today’s comments have helped- on good days the dummy doesn’t bother me, on bad days I add it to my mental list of mummy fails./ things that make me feel guilty- although typing that sounds daft when I know the dummy gives her so much comfort!

  13. I didn’t like the idea of a dummy at first but Connie was a v sucky baby so we tried it early on…. Possibly 4wks from my hazy memory. It did hugely help her and us. I learnt later on that sucking particularly helps to soothe reflux babies. I was adamant I wanted to ditch the dummy at around 3 months so no big attachments were formed and we had a really good few days that coincided so ditching it wasn’t a problem but now with hindsight I question why I felt the need to get rid of it so early. Almost every baby I see has a dummy. Babies like to suck….. that’s just fact. I don’t like seeing older kids with a dummy in when they should be chatting and singing but you as a parent are completely in control of dummy use times. How you use it would be what Bea gets into a habit with. As lots of others have pointed out, it’s promoted by the Lullaby Trust.

    Finally, re nipple confusion. I have never heard/ known of a baby to refuse the nipple. I have however heard/ known many babies to refuse a bottle as they were introduced too late to them. Connie had to be topped up from around 4wks so was introduced to a bottle then. She continued to bf til I gave up at 15 mo but always took a bottle too, although would always choose boob over bottle. The week she was born, a close friend told me not to wait until 6 wks to introduce a bottle as all the midwives advise, as she did, and her son then refused the bottle. I remember thinking at the time that I would still wait, just in case, but my hand was forced due to Connie’s poor weight gain and after seeing an NCT friend suffer with bottle refusal, I’m so glad I introduced a bottle earlier than 6 wks. I’m not saying it has to be every day, but here and there may just save your sanity a few more months down the line. Just another experience that isn’t always shared in the public domain. Xxx

      • Coming in really late but I was worried about nipple confusion as found breast feeding very difficult at first and E then refused both a dummy and bottle. I tried on and off with the bottle but she was having none of it. If I have another then this is the one thing I’d do differently – they’ll be getting a bottle very early on!

  14. I’ve not read any of the other comments yet but just wanted to dip in to share my experience. I have two girls, 8 and 4 (just!). Our first never had a dummy, I tried her with one once – purely, only, to try to get her used to drinking from a teat because she was due to start nursery and was refusing drink from a bottle/anything but my boob, and I needed to return to work! She completely rejected the dummy and we forgot about the idea.

    Our second was a different story. From the off things were much less straight forward – pregnancy was difficult, birth was premature and difficult and she suffered really badly from colic for quite a few weeks and this left us exhausted. We started using a dummy and it helped, massively. We stated to receive the odd comment about her ‘still having a dummy’ when she was 2, and entering her 3rd year. The only reason she was still using it at this age to be honest was because she has suffered really badly from constipation (she’s been hospitalised with it) and it also helped soothe her when she was really in pain, so, we planned to remove her dummy at Christmas (when she was 2 and a quarter) as she’d have Christmas to distract her. So we did, and there was no problem at all.

    I have to be honest, I’d rather not see a dummy and never thought I’d ever use one before I had my babies, but, they can be such life savers, so I totally get it and would never judge, though it *is* a little sad to see older children wearing them, children of 4+, you know?

    • Is their anything that health visitors don’t try and make you feel bad about ?!! I have seen quite a few now Annie is 1 and they all seem to be very judgemental!!

  15. Annie had a dummy from about 2 weeks I think. She was a very sucky baby and it really helped her settle plus I would rather her have one than suck her thumb. (which she had started to do…)

    We now use it for naps and sleeping and occasionally in the day for teething/unwell days. She takes comfort from it and I don’t have a problem with it at all and to be honest I think anyone that judges anyone else for having one needs to mind their own business.

    Its amazing how many mums feel they have to apologise for it..! I just dont understand why its controversial really! You do what you have to do!!

    Rachie xo

  16. I’m not against using a dummy. If it makes life a little easier in those first few weeks/months-why not? Having said that my daughter Alba wouldn’t take one. There’s been many a time I wished she would as she won’t nap in the buggy and just cries when she’s tired. She is now one and needs to breastfeed for naps and I’ve no idea how to get her to sleep without a feed. A dummy might have worked, but alas no!

    I think you just have to go with what works for you. Yes you do have to wean them off at some point but if it helps your sleep right now then go for it. You never know she might not take to it and then the decisions is out if your hands.

    Also with regards to sleeping through the noises you could always try a bit of white noise. Alba used to be quite noisy and id put a white noise app and drift off straight away. It helped her sleep too! X

  17. We hadn’t planned on using one as I remember being heartbroken AGED 4 when mine was finally taken from me (I used to dig it out of the bin)! But my son was tongue tied and had silent reflux and I decided – based on no medical knowledge – that it may help him and comfort him…
    It’s been wonderful – soothing him at times when I can’t – I’m sure it helped with his silent reflux and being a source of amusement at times. He’s 2 1/4 now and we’ve phased it out to only nap & night time and have been chatting about giving it away to “the babies” which is where anything he out-grows goes! Lord knows if we’re doing the right thing but it felt right & feels right and I’m fairly sure parenting is 95% go-with-your-gut! Xx PS We’d use one again – esp as we’d need to “pacify” no 2 in order to keep no 1 asleep!! Ha!

  18. I don’t know how others feel but i wouldn’t necessarily use a dummy for those nighttime farmyard noises, because she will probably grow out of that as her windpipe becomes less floppy as she gains head control. I was so anti dummy pre baby, mainly from seeing mums pick them up from the floor and suck them before giving them back (is there anything more gross than that?) and seeing toddlers talk through them as others have mentioned. But when we tried one when R had extended bouts of inconsolable crying as a newborn we knew it was right for us. It worked a treat. We used to remove it when he calmed down so he wouldn’t expect it to be there when he woke up, because we were worried about dependency. If he is unsettled or ill we still use it now and don’t find he relies on it. There isnt a set time he expects it and we dont use one every day. But even if he did, I really don’t think its the end of the world if used responsibly by parents according to their baby’s needs. It’s funny how much you can soften to things you were judgmental about before once you see how something works for your own baby.

  19. Hang on what am I saying?!! In the day, what I said applies but oh god we have got into this stupid routine of letting him have a dummy at dawn so we can all sleep til 7. I refuse to get up and be human at dawn so I stumble eyes half shut down the hall. We tried recently to wean him off that but after a week of crying from dawn til 7 we cracked and resolved that our sleep was worth more than having to get up for 2 minutes a night. I have no idea why he wants it at 5am, a bad habit motivated by our lack of sleep perhaps? He’s the exception to his own rule at that time of night and I try and block it out to be honest. I’ll remind him of his dawn morning call when he’s kevin the teenager sleeping til lunch.

  20. We didn’t use a dummy and although our little one was noisy they do eventually sleep normally. I’m glad we didn’t persist with it, we tried on a couple of desperate occasions but it was spat out with disgust.
    A friend of mine used one and found she was having to get up more to put the dummy back in her sons mouth because he got so used to it he couldn’t sleep without it eeeeeeek!
    I also think if you can get through that first six weeks without one you can probably do another six and by then you won’t be disturbed half as much.

  21. Well I can actually update you all already!

    Long story short, a couple of days ago when Bea was upset and hungry and I had left her with Pete (not thinking she would need feeding in that time,) Pete tried the dummy in desperation. It was spat out in disgust. I wondered if it was just anger or frustration so tried it int he day when she was calm and full, and again it wasn’t accepted.

    So I guess no dummy!!

  22. Just seen this. We never gaven Ava a dummy. For a variety of reasons I decided against it. She went through a stage where she would put her thumb in her mouth, and I would just stick her on the boob for comfort instead. This worked, and she doesn’t thumb suck or have a dummy. She has a teddy that she takes to bed with her.

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