|Can it be true that sucking a dummy is harmful?
The dummy debate is one of the most divisive issues that
exist in the childcare arena. The positions for and against
the use of dummies are equally passionate. We present you with all the arguments so you can make up your own
On one hand there is no doubt that some babies derive intense
comfort from sucking. If a dummy is not provided, many babies
will instinctively resort to sucking their own fingers.
Research has shown that it is more difficult to wean a child
from sucking a thumb than a dummy. Birth can be a shocking
experience for many babies, and it would be harsh to deprive
babies who are struggling to adapt of the comfort of sucking.
Used wisely, the dummy can be a bonus in many situations,
as long is care is taken to ensure that baby is comforted
with hugs and other methods, not only plonking the dummy
However, the arguments against dummies are equally compelling. Babies that have poor sucking skills or are not strong, may tire themselves so while sucking a dummy so that their feeding is compromised. In addition, since the sucking action
employed with a dummy is completely different to the action
of breastfeeding, small babies may become confused and fail
to feed properly. Beyond this risk is the possibility that
teeth development could be affected by constant sucking,
and the possibility of increased ear infections. The difficulty
of weaning toddlers from their sucking habits, which may
be seen as antisocial as they get older, can be considerable.
Current thinking is that ideally a baby should be weaned
off the dummy by the child’s first birthday. Cruel
as it seems, the best way is to get rid of the dummy all
together and to put up with a few unhappy days.
Since sucking a dummy reduces the amount of babbling that
a baby does, this can affect speech development. Therefore
it is important to take time to chat with your little baby,
first removing the dummy so that baby can reply! Also, do
not use the dummy for every unhappy situation. Try other
ways to comfort the baby and keep the dummy as the last
Having said this, many babies have combined dummy and feeding
without any problems, and have been weaned with the minimum
Probably the best judge of the situation, once again, is
you. If your baby is struggling to feed and gain weight,
it might be wise to reduce or eliminate dummy use to see
if feeding improves. However if you have a generally contented
baby who occasionally derives comfort from extra sucking,
then there should be no problem.