Updated: Jul 28
Dummies!!! Some parents swear by them, others refuse to ever give their child one. There are a lot of differing opinions out there over whether or not you should offer your baby a dummy. The truth is… it’s a very personal decision and there is no right or wrong.
Many parents use a dummy right from the very beginning and never have a problem with their child’s sleep. Others often regret introducing a dummy as it seems to cause more problems than it solves.
Newborns 0-3 Months
Dummies can be a great settling tool for fussy newborns. Once feeding is established, offering a dummy to an unsettled baby triggers their calming reflex and helps to soothe.
If you find your baby is a bit of a snacker, offering a dummy between feeds can help stretch them out to encourage them to have longer, more full feeds. Just be sure not to offer the dummy in place of a feed.
Dummies can also be good for gassy babies or those with reflux as it reduces the build-up of excess wind and aids in saliva production which reduces the acidity of the stomach contents that cause pain with reflux.
Newborns can’t develop sleep associations just yet, so don’t worry. At this age it’s more important for them to get plenty of sleep and encourage healthy sleep habits.
Babies 3-6 Months
By 3 to 4 months old the dummy can start to become a sleep association, so this is a good age to decide whether or not you want to continue using one. It’s a lot easier to ditch the dummy at this age than when your baby is older and has formed an even stronger attachment.
The dummy can still be useful for babies that have lingering reflux or who can easily become unhappy and overwhelmed.
If you find your baby is waking frequently from naps and overnight and crying out looking for the dummy to be replaced, it’s probably best to get rid of it now, otherwise you are looking at another few months of sleepless nights until you can teach your baby to replace it themselves.
Babies 6-8 Months
By this age your baby will probably have formed a strong attachment to their dummy, and it can be more difficult to get rid of. If it’s not affecting their sleep and you have no other concerns, then full steam ahead.
However, if you feel the dummy is disrupting your baby’s quality of sleep as they still can’t quite replace it themselves, it’s not too late to go cold turkey and ditch the dummy now. You may find they protest more, but the dummy will be long forgotten within a week.
Babies and Toddlers 8 Months to 3 Years
This is usually the point of no return. If your baby or toddler still has a dummy at this age, it’s best to let them have it. Although, by now, you can teach them how to find and replace it themselves, so they don’t call out for your help every time they wake up and it has fallen out.
By about 2.5 to 3 years old your baby will have developed the ability to self-regulate their emotions and can comprehend the concept of needing to give up their dummy with just a little persuasion and creativity… Did someone call the Dummy Fairy?!
If you think your baby’s sleep is being impacted by their dummy, contact me now and we can discuss your options around removing the dummy or teaching your baby to find and replace it themselves. Or, if you have any other concerns about your baby's sleep book a consultation with me today.