Everything You Need to Know About Dummies & Sleep
Should I introduce the dummy? This is a question I get asked on a daily basis & there is no simple answer
- Sucking motion is very calming so it can be a great tool to help your baby settle
- Sucking motion can also help your baby to fall asleep and to go into another sleep cycle
- It can cause sleep problems later on when the dummy falls out and your little one needs help putting it back in.
- It may be difficult to wean your baby off the dummy
- Using the dummy over the age of a year can cause ear infections, misalignment of teeth and interference with speech development
Tips on How to use Dummies
Whether you decide to introduce a dummy is entirely your decision as a parent. If you do decide to use one, here are some tips for how to use it:
- Hold off introducing a dummy until breastfeeding is well established (this is usually around 1-2 months).
- Once the dummy has been established and your baby starts to take consistent naps or naps become more predictable, try to only have the dummy for sleep. This will help to reduce the amount of time your little one uses the dummy so that it will less likely cause possible problems associated with usinga dummy. It will also become a clear cue for sleep.
- If your baby spits out the dummy, don’t put it back in unless they are signaling that they need it.
- Lots of parents find putting a few dummies in their sleep space can help if they are waking in the night because their dummy has come out.
Safety Guidelines on the Use of Dummies
It is also advised that you follow these guidelines which are recommended by the Lullaby Trust:
- Stop giving a dummy to your baby to go to sleep between 6 and 12 months.
- Don’t force your baby to take a dummy or put it back in if your baby spits it out.
- Don’t use a neck cord.
- Don’t put anything sweet on the dummy.
- Using an orthodontic dummy is best as it adapts to your baby’s mouth shape.
- There is some research which suggests that if your baby uses a dummy, you should continue using it until 6 months as it can reduce the risks of SIDs.
Tips on How to Wean your Little One Off the Dummy
If you want to wean your little one off the dummy, here are some tips:
- Make sure they are in a ‘good place’, i.e. they are not unwell, suffering from teething or going through a developmental leap or separation anxiety and when they haven’t got any other change going on in their life, for example moving house, moving to abed, potty training or the arrival of a new sibling.
- If they are using a dummy during awake times, start to restrict the use during this time. Make it part of your morning routine, to put the dummy away (let them do this), think about introducing another form of comfort such as teddy or doll to carry and snuggle.
- Start by trying to slowly weaning them off their dummy for naps. Try the first nap of the day as little ones usually find this nap the easiest. Try taking the dummy out just as they are falling asleep. You will probably need to reassure them with something comforting like patting, cuddling or stroking. If they find this really difficult, try again at bedtime as this may be the time your little one finds it easier or wait until the next day.
Once naptime without the dummy is going well, move onto bedtime or vice versa.
Once they are able to fall asleep for naps and bedtime, tackle the nights. You can either remove them entirely from this point on, many parents find giving all the dummies to the tooth fairy, father Christmas or a baby who needs them, works well. This approach won’t work for every child and some may need a more gradual approach where you work on each wake up, one at a time trying to help them back to sleep in a different way. This could be with something like a comforter or you providing comfort.
In preparation read some dummy based stories.
Not all babies like dummies (neither of mine did), so don’t be surprised if your baby makes the decision whether to have a dummy or not for you.
I hope that you have found these tips helpful.
If you are after any more sleep support which doesn't involve leaving your little one to cry or involve anything which isn't responsive, visit my website where you can find my sleep guides, workshops, online courses as well as my one to one consultations.