Babies and Dummies

Babies suck dummies because sucking is one of the very few things a baby can actively do to calm themselves.

In the first few weeks there is often a word of caution about offering dummies to breast feeding babies for fear of them developing ‘nipple confusion’. This occurs when babies suck the dummy a lot, and then starts to suck at the breast as if it were a dummy, and the drawing and sucking muscles are not engaged.

If however, your baby is sucking wonderfully at the breast or bottle and occasionally needs some sucking to comfort, a dummy is often harmless. Breast fed babies often satisfy their need for sucking comfort from the breast and may not benefit from a dummy anyway.

The time dummies can become problematic is when a dummy is offered all the time and the baby doesn’t have the opportunity to learn any other way of self comforting. Another time dummies are less than ideal is when a dummy is offered in place of parental comforting.

New babies need hugs, warmth, skin to skin contact, rhythmical movement and sucking time. Some babies need additional sucking time or are comforted by sucking on a dummy when they are struggling with wind, and other babies won’t touch a dummy.

Read your baby, if they need the dummy all the time, think about offering it less often, and do some singing, rocking and skin to skin contact instead to see if that calms your baby. Dummies are best used for soothing, so when your baby is calm, remove the dummy so the calm times without dummy, are encouraged.

Offer you, your comforting and support, before the dummy each time so your baby knows you are around and they may not need their dummy quite as much.  If you offer the dummy as the first form of soothing, then your baby will (understandably) not learn how to be settled other ways which, can become difficult as they grow older.