It turns out there are few absolutes when it comes to the dummy debate so let’s look at the facts first: paediatric experts say sucking is a natural reflex for babies, who often develop the habit while still in the womb. Sucking provides comfort, can soothe a child to sleep, and is said to alleviate the painful symptoms of colic and wind, where other methods have failed.
On the other hand, speech delay, dental problems, middle ear infections, and nipple confusion have all been flagged as problems caused by dummies, and while there is disagreement within the medical community as to how real those threats are, they’re worth considering when making the decision of whether or not to use a dummy.
So what about nature’s own dummy, the thumb? You can’t lose it and you don’t need to worry about what materials it’s made from, but the problem with thumbs is that you can’t just toss them in the bin when you decide your child should stop with this sucking nonsense.
I didn’t give my first son a dummy but when my second one came along it was a matter of necessity. We nicknamed him Il Duce not just because he looked like the Italian dictator but because also because he acted like Mussolini. While I certainly fretted over the decision to rely on a dummy the fact was that the kid couldn’t stop crying for more than 3.2 seconds (and I was slowly losing my mind as a result) so it was pop in the pacifier and boom! Peace!
Speaking from experience
I took a quick survey of friends and family and it turns out that most people, like me, made the decision to use or not to use a dummy based on the situation at hand – and what worked for one baby didn’t necessarily work for another.
Sarah said she didn’t give any of her three boys dummies but that they all ended up thumb-suckers, which was a difficult habit to break. Dodi never even considered using them for her two, saying that she considered dummies to be germ-magnets. JoAnne used them for all three of her girls, stopped them cold turkey at 18 months and other than a few nights of bedtime fussing there weren’t any problems. Sandra tried to give a dummy to her son, but he was completely uninterested.
It’s not often your doctor will tell you flat out to not give your baby a dummy – and in hospital it’s not unheard of for nurses to pop one in the mouths of babes – but they do say that after the first year, when teeth start to arrive and speech is beginning to develop, dummies can do more harm than good.
So maybe Harper Beckham is a bit long in the tooth to be using a dummy and Victoria and David should consider weaning her off it. But as my friend Ruth says, “Whatever gets you through.” And as parents we all know that sometimes we do what we have to do to make it through the night.
Where do you weigh-in on the great dummy debate?