Q: I am getting a lot of conflicting advice about dummies – some friends tell me they are a lifesaver while others seem to think they do more harm than good. Should I give one to my baby girl or not?
A: It is entirely normal for a baby to use the sucking reflex to calm themselves, settle and draw comfort. It is also proven that babies suck their thumbs in the womb!
Once your baby is born, you will have a much clearer idea as to whether or not you think a dummy would be beneficial. For example, if she has colic, the use of a dummy may help her cope. You may also find that allowing her to suck will help her sleep a little better.
Additionally, all babies have moments where they seem upset for absolutely no reason at all. The soothing action of sucking can help calm even the most of upset of babies, and provide you with a much needed break from hearing your little one in distress.
It is also believed that dummies may help to reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS - also known as cot death), although researchers are not entirely sure why.
While it brings many benefits, using a dummy does bring a few less desirable aspects. Obviously dummies do fall out of mouths, and you may find yourself getting up at all hours to pop it back in before your baby can do this for herself.
There is also a belief that frequent use of a dummy in older children can affect the shape of the mouth and impair speech if the child talks 'through' the dummy. Limiting dummy use to sleep time can help minimise these issues.
Dummy dependency is another possible problem, so do prepare yourself for a battle of wills when the time comes to take it away! Ultimately, the decision is really down to your baby - some thrive on the use of a dummy; others can take it or leave it; while others will completely refuse.
In any case, if you do decide to try a dummy, you should delay using one until around four weeks of age as you will need to stimulate and establish a good breast milk supply. This can be helped by putting the baby to the breast to suckle as opposed to giving her a dummy.