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Dummies for Babies – Benefits and Risks Discussed!

Dummies for babies feature image dental aware

A very debatable topic – Should you give your newborn a Dummy?

It’s up to you if and when you give your baby a dummy, it may be best to wait until they have latched onto your breast and settled into a feeding routine.

Let’s get straight into it, so you can keep your baby happy.

RECALL UPDATE: BIBS baby dummies, sold by eBay store Chubby Gumz has been recalled due to not meeting Australian safety standards. This notice was issued by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission on Friday the 2nd of July 2021.

You can find more details about the recall via www.productsafety.gov.au

Benefits of Dummies

Dummies or Pacifiers as our American friends call them have many benefits, including:

  • May soothe a fussy baby – Some babies get pleasure from sucking on something. So, they may remain content during feeds for longer.
  • Offer momentary distraction – This might come in handy while getting their shots, blood tests, check-ups, etc.

The same could be said for when they are being bathed but before they come to like water.

  • Could assist your baby in falling asleep – If you have trouble getting your baby to settle, a pacifier might be the solution.

They tend to help babies fall and stay asleep, and settle themselves down and go back to sleep if they wake up.

  • Could ease the discomfort they feel when on a flight – A baby cannot knowingly swallow or yawn to ‘pop’ their ears, which lessens the pain in the ears that the changes in air pressures causes. Sucking on a pacifier may help with this.
  • Might lower the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) – Sucking on a pacifier at bedtime could possibly reduce the risk of SIDS. I will elaborate on this under the sub-heading, “Is It Dangerous to Sleep with Pacifiers”.
  • Are Disposable – When it’s time to give up the dummy, you can throw it away. (I will let you know what a good age is under the sub-heading “When to Remove dummies?”).

If your child instead has started sucking on their fingers or thumb, this habit might not be as easy to break, so you could say dummies are less habit-forming.

A baby sucking on an object

Disadvantages of Dummies

Dummies also have their disadvantages.

When considering a dummy, consider the downfalls, which include:

  • Your baby might become reliant on it – Your baby may depend on the dummy to self-soothe when awake. If so, when asleep and the dummy falls out, you may awaken to midnight crying spells.
  • Dummies may cause the risk of your baby getting an ear infection to rise – However, this is more common after the age of 6 months. By this age, your baby is less intrigued by the dummy, and the risk of SIDS is lower.
  • Continuous use of the dummy may cause dental problems – Normal dummy use during their first few years generally doesn’t cause issues. But continued use of the dummy could cause crowding of the teeth, tongue-tie, less muscle development in their jaw, or an underbite.
  • It could interfere with breastfeeding – If you’re breastfeeding, you might wait until your baby is 3 to 4 weeks old and you have reached a nursing routine before giving them a dummy.

As, at a young age, they could get nipple confusion, and may prefer the dummy over your breast, or get tired and only breastfeed for short lengths.

A baby teething

Can Dummies Be Dangerous to Use?

Apart from ear infections, nipple confusion, and trouble with their teeth, there are ways that a dummy could potentially be dangerous.

I have listed these below.

Choking Hazards

Dummies have a life span. Over time, before you notice it, they can break, the dummy coming apart from the nipple and guard.

This can mean your baby can choke on the piece that has detached.

Even dummies that come as one piece are a potential risk. Your baby can tug on its’ handle, loosen it, and pull it off.

Also, as your baby ages, the shield of the dummy becomes smaller against their growing mouth.

The result?

The whole dummy could end up stuck inside their mouth.

Burn Marks

There’s a story of a baby girl in Ohio that was badly burnt by her pacifier clip when taking a nap.

The pacifier fell out of her mouth and landed on her stomach.

Her body heat caused the clip to stick to her body, leaving behind a burn mark.

The poor girl had to be rushed to a burn centre, it was so severe.

She was in a lot of pain and maybe left with a lifelong scar.

Germs

Babies will drop their dummy a lot.

If there’s another baby in the same room, they will trade dummies, or steal them to use themselves.

Even the cleanest parents will have a difficult time keeping a dummy clean, as they will end up in spots they shouldn’t be.

A study done on 10 pacifiers found 40 different strains of bacteria, that caused skin infections, respiratory diseases, and four different strains of Staph infections.

Meaning, there is a risk of your baby getting sick from sucking on their dummy/pacifier.

Even if you rinse them every time they get dropped it may not be enough to keep the germs at bay.

Mould has even been found in crevices that are hard to clean.

Another test in Oklahoma showed tiny spores that were too small for the human eye to see, but big enough to harm your baby.

The report states that in only 2 weeks, a pacifier/dummy can get so contaminated that bleaching or boiling it isn’t enough to rid the germs.

Toxicity

While Australia has voluntarily moved away from using Bisphenol A (known as PBA) in baby bottles, it’s still used in many dummies/pacifiers.

This ingredient is linked to such things as heart disease and cancer.

Lacerations

Dummies have been known to have left lacerations – both small and large – on the babies’ mouths.

A report conducted in 2015 found a number of pacifiers had ripped or broken and then cut either the inside or just outside of a baby’s mouth.

Parents are advised to check recall lists, and take a look at the dummy closely and often, to see if there are any signs that the nipple has ripped.

A toddler with a dummy

When to Remove Dummies?

As your baby grows older, the disadvantages of using a dummy start to outweigh its’ benefits.

While most children will stop using dummies on their own accord between the ages of 2 – 4, others will need your help to wean them off it.

Signs that it might be time to start weaning them off it is if:

  • They are using their dummy as a teether.
  • Your baby is producing an excessive amount of drool (this means they are chewing not sucking).

To help wean them off, try the below tips:

  • Give them the dummy only at the same, certain times. Generally, the easiest way to approach this is to limit daytime use first, before removing it at sleep times.
  • Restrict the use of the dummy to one place, such as the bedroom.
  • Go cold turkey by throwing it away, and brave the crying.
  • Use a reward system by allowing them other ways to self-soothe, such as their favourite blanket or toy. Then praise them when they choose not to use the dummy.
  • Consider asking their Doctor or Dentist for advice.

Is It Dangerous to Sleep with Dummies?

No – in fact, quite the opposite.

Several studies have found that giving your baby a pacifier whilst they sleep may be connected to lowering the risk of sleep-related death in babies, possibly by more than 50%.

That is, a dummy while sleeping can potentially lessen the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), which is the most common cause of death in babies ages between 1 month to 1 year.

Reasons they can help protect your baby from SIDS include:

  • They may make it hard for your baby to roll over onto their stomach, which is the most dangerous position when sleeping.
  • They shield your baby’s face from accidentally getting up too close to their mattress, pillow, or blanket.
  • Some researchers think that sucking on a dummy may help your baby develop better nerve reflexes and breathing muscles.

So, with the above mention studies, they deem it is safe to give your baby a dummy while they are 6 months old, and laying on their back for asleep.

Are There Natural Dummies That Work Well?

Yes, the manufacturers of dummies/pacifiers have looked at the risks and have developed new shapes and sizes to combat them.

Key features to look for include:

  • One-piece dummies – As mentioned, your baby may still pull this apart, but it’s less likely to fall to bits, reducing the risk of choking.
  • Safe materials – Look for dummies made from natural rubber, free from PBA and any other iffy chemicals.
  • Cleaning – Ensure you can clean the dummy easily, such as boiling it in sterile water.

A great option can be seen at Amazon.

Made from 100% Natural Rubber.

Sophie the giraffe Natural Rubber Pacifier for new borns

Sophie the giraffe Natural Rubber Pacifier for new borns – Amazon

Conclusion

Dummies are safe for your newborn baby, though they have their pros and cons.

It’s advised you wean your baby off the dummy at around 2 years old.

Until then, enjoy every benefit they have and hopefully, they provide comfort for both you and your baby!

Andrew Adams

By Andrew Adams

Created at June 29, 2021, Updated at July 05, 2021

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