There are many opinions surrounding the use of a dummy with newborns and children. Should they be given to a newborn? Should there be an age restriction? How old is too old? As a parent, you will find there is a lot of scrutiny about this topic.
As a new parent, I was advised against giving my newborn a dummy. Paediatric experts have found that it can cause nipple confusion, along with dental problems and speech delay later in life. I decided to take the advice of the midwives and not use a dummy, but things quickly changed when I went home…
At birth, Isaac was diagnosed with an inguinal hernia and at eight days old had surgery. The day before his surgery, Isaac was very distressed and continuously cried. No milk could soothe him, and no hugs and kisses made him stop. At that stage, I was concerned that he was in pain (although the doctors told me he shouldn’t be). It was at that point I felt that the dummy was my last resort. Once I put it in his mouth, Isaac stopped crying and once again he was that calm baby I knew when he was first born.
Two and a bit years later, Isaac still has his dummy. When he is tired or is in an unknown environment, he wants his comforter. Some would say that I need to get rid of it, but I am not sure it is the right time yet. I am sometimes concerned that he is getting too big to have one, but at the same time I think he will tell me when he is ready to let go.
Everyone has their reasons for using a dummy or deciding against it. Regardless of their choice, it should only be the decision of parents and what works for them and their child.
For those that feel that it is time for their child to let go, a few of my mummy friends have given me some ideas that might work for you.
- Cold turkey: Not sure if I would try this, but for some going cold turkey is the best option. This may work better if your child is still a baby as the connection to the dummy may be forgotten.
- Introduce a make-believe character to help say goodbye: This is a great option for those that are a little older and understand the concept of the tooth fairy, Santa and the Easter Bunny. Telling your child that the ‘fairy’ is coming to pick their dummy may get them prepared for what is to come. Putting the dummy in a box with your child and leaving it overnight to be ‘taken’ will make the transition easier.
- Flush it down the toilet: I have heard many parents have done this with their toddler. The idea of your child seeing it getting flushed, may give them a sense of accomplishment, and make them understand that it is not a necessity anymore.
- Wean your child off: Limiting the use of the dummy by only allowing them to have it at certain times such as sleep time is a popular solution. As you slowly wean your child off they will soon forget about it.
These are only a few ideas that may help you get through those hard times. Feel free to leave any other handy tips for parents, please comment below.
So… how old is too old? That is a decision you need to make as a parent.