Who would have thought back when you were longing to become a parent that you’d be weighing up the pros and cons of dummies? There really are two sides to the dummy coin. They can be effective as settling tools, but they can also cause a lot of sleep troubles too. And if you’re a mama struggling with having to get up and replace your baby’s dummy multiple times a night, then you may be weighing up the pros and cons of dummies.
It doesn’t take long to realise dummies are a very personal choice. If we look at both approaches, you can arrive at a decision that works best for you and your family. Feeling balanced and informed in your chosen approach is the ultimate goal.
By Kelly Martin, Certified Sleep Consultant
What are the pros and cons of dummies?
From newborn to toddler, let’s break the dummy concept down into 3 key stages.
The Newborn Stage
Babies are born with a strong sucking reflex, so dummies can be really helpful to soothe and calm a newborn under 3-4 months of age. If it soothes your baby and achieves sleep, it prevents an overtired baby – which makes it a positive. A dummy can be introduced from the newborn stage, but only after breastfeeding is established.
The Toddler Stage
Toddlers have the cognitive understanding, and can be prepared for when their dummy can be used. They can also understand when it is time to wean off its use. At this stage, you can put a plan in place to limit the dummy. This might include restricting the dummy to set times, such as only naps and bedtime. Then, put it somewhere special each time they wake.
The Tricky Middle Stage
Between 4-8 months of age your little one may develop a strong like for their dummy. But they won’t have mastered the art of finding and replacing it.
The Four Month Sleep Regression often shows the dummy’s ‘true colours.’ This is where you need to make the decision to continue popping the dummy back in, until they can learn to do it themselves. Or, to remove the dummy and teach the art of self-settling without it.
“Often, the prospect of removing the dummy is more daunting than the actual process of doing it.”
Why is the dummy considered a common culprit for sleep troubles?
In short, a dummy is an external sleep prop. This means your baby is relying on something external to put them to sleep initially. They will need to physically learn to find and replace it between sleep cycles, if you wish to use it successfully long-term.
How do we successfully say goodbye to the dummy?
If your baby is under 7-8 months of age, saying goodbye to the dummy is best done cold turkey. Often, the prospect of removing the dummy is more daunting than the actual process of doing it. If you decide to remove the dummy, be confident to choose a settling approach that suits your little one’s temperament and your parenting style. We want to establish healthy sleep habits that are sustainable long-term.
Do expect it to be a little rough for 2-3 days, as your baby adjusts to learning to fall asleep without the sucking motion. It will benefit their sleep long-term, as they learn to internally reference how they fall asleep, which makes going back to sleep quicker and easier.
Helping your child say goodbye to the dummy for good requires some extra help from parents, as they develop their healthy sleep cycles. However, leaning on baby technology can be a great mechanism for an easy transition from both parent and bub.