Dummies- pros & cons

I've recently been off work after injuring my knee, and while I've been hobbling out and about exercising I seem to have noticed a large number of older children with dummies in their mouths.  Yesterday was a prime example on the 4 buses I took to & from hospital appointments.  One girl was around 5 and spent the whole journey with a dummy in her mouth, attempting to talk to her mother around the dummy.  At times the mother couldn't understand what she was saying, and had to ask her to repeat herself.  Later I sat people watching while having a coffee, and it seemed that everywhere I looked there were children who, in my opinion, should not have been sucking on dummies.
It's all too easy to bash on about the negatives of dummy use, so I've done a bit of research to find some advantages I didn't know about.

  • A dummy can help soothe a child- the urge to suck/sucking reflex releases chemicals that help to reduce stress.
  • Dummy sucking can help reduce pain when a child is teething.
  • For babies born with the urge to suck thumbs, fingers or fists, the use of a dummy can discourage them from doing so- sucking thumbs etc can cause dental problems. It's easier to wean a child off a dummy than a thumb, and parents have more control over dummy use than thumb use.  (I'm a case in point with this- I was a thumb sucker as a child, and will often resort to thumb sucking when tired or in need of comfort, as a result I have a slight overbite.  My younger brother was given a dummy, which he was successfully weaned off and has near perfect teeth.)
  • Dummies can possibly protect against Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) when given to a child at the start of a sleep period.  However it is recommended that the dummy is not replaced in their mouth once it falls out.  Research is unclear on how exactly dummy use can help prevent SIDS, but possible explanations include dummies helping to keep airways open, and because babies sleep less deeply when they are sucking so there is the possibility of them waking themselves if they have difficulties breathing.

  • Dummies have been associated with dental problems- overbites or misaligned teeth, when used up to the age of 3 or 4.  (I have seen this with a number of children I've worked with.)
  • The use of dummies past the age of 12 months can affect the development of speech.  Having a dummy in their mouth can restrict their ability to babble, and as they get older start to learn to form sounds around their dummy.  Once the dummy has been removed this can then lead to speech problems as children have to re-learn how to produce sounds without the dummy.  (Again, this is something I've seen several times too.)
  • Dummies can actually lead to disturbed nights sleep for parents when the dummy falls out of the child's mouth and cries until it is replaced.
  • The use of dummies has been linked to ear infections by allowing bacteria to move into the tubes between the ears and throat.
Ultimately it comes down to parental choice- there are clearly advantages to some use of dummies up to the age of 1 year.  What concerns me most as an educator, is the over-use of dummies past that age and the possible problems it can cause.

I used two websites researching this, links to which can be found below.  I in no way endorse the full contents of these web pages, these were just useful pages I found using a search engine.


Did you use dummies with your child/ren? What advantages and disadvantages did you find from using them?


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Welcome to my blog. I'm Sarah a 30-something Nursery Officer, formerly a Primary School teacher, based in Leicester.