Babies are born with a natural instinct to suckle. As well as making sure that they feed, suckling also provides feelings of comfort and security. That’s why using a dummy can work really well to help calm and comfort a baby.
If you’re breastfeeding, it’s probably best to avoid offering your baby a dummy for at least the first 6 weeks whilst breastfeeding establishes as it can confuse your baby while they’re still learning to latch on to the breast. Breastfeeding may take a few weeks to get established, and you can find out more about breastfeeding here.
Not all babies like dummies, and if your baby refuses it, never force them to take one; they will learn to soothe themselves, for example by sucking on their fists or fingers instead.
Never dip your baby’s dummy or teething ring into fruit syrups, honey, fruit juices or anything containing sugars. The harmful sugars and acids can attack your baby’s newly formed teeth and cause decay.
Never use a dummy with a neck cord or any other attachment, as these have safety risks and could cause strangulation.
When your baby is between six months and a year old, think about starting to reduce their dependency on the dummy. You can start by keeping dummies in the bedroom, and only offering them at sleep time. Once your baby’s a year old, stop using it altogether as overuse can affect speech as well as the way their teeth grow.
You may have heard that using a dummy can reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), also known as cot death. Regular use of a dummy whenever a baby is asleep has been associated with lowering the risk. Always use safer sleep advice; this is the best way to reduce the risk of SIDS.
- The Lullaby Trust: Factsheet on dummies