Victoria And David Beckham's Daughter Harper Photographed Sucking A Dummy At The Age Of Three

Harper Beckham has been photographed sucking a dummy at the age of three – re-igniting the debate about what age children should give up their dummies.

Harper was snapped sucking on the pink pacifier as she was being carried by her mum Victoria, 40, as they came out of a shop in Los Angeles.

The toddler turned three in July which, according to some health experts, is two years beyond the recommended cut-off point for dummy use.

Dummies are sometimes used to help settle restless babies at bedtime. However some parents use them to stop a child crying, or because it has become a habit.

But according to an expert quoted in the Mail, sucking a dummy at the age of three can cause protruding teeth and poor speech development.

Clare Byam-Cook told the paper: "Most people agree that prolonged use of the dummy can damage the teeth, by pushing them forwards and getting them misaligned.

"It can also affect speech development, because so many mothers stick a dummy in their toddler's mouth just to shut the toddler up. The toddler just sits there sucking away on its dummy and doesn't talk or do anything."

She added: "If a mother allows her toddler to have a dummy in her mouth for large parts of the day, she will definitely stunt her speech development.

"[Harper] should be looking at her surroundings and pointing things out to her mother but anything she says will be unclear because of the dummy, so she will get used to mumbling speech."

NHS Choices recommends limiting dummy use from 12 months: "They may affect speech development. That's why you should avoid using dummies after 12 months of age.

"Thumb sucking and dummies won't cause permanent problems as long as the habit stops by the time your child gets their second teeth, but it can be a hard habit to break.

"Discourage your children from talking or making sounds with their thumb or a dummy in their mouth, and don't dip dummies in anything sweet, such as sugar or jam."

Harper is the youngest of Posh and Becks' four children.

The couple, who married in 1999, are also parents to Brooklyn, 15, Romeo, 12, and nine-year-old Cruz.

David recently spoke about their parenting style in an interview with The Telegraph. He told the paper: "We have always led by example, in terms of the way we treat our children, with the way we look after our children, the way we love our children.

"But we are very strict parents. We want to bring them up as closely as possible to how we were brought up, because you have to give them manners, you have to give them boundaries and our children definitely have that."

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