The wonderfully, divisive dummy debate.
Pacifiers. Non-nutritive sucking. Transition objects. Dummies. Whatever you call them, they have been extensively researched.
This is a perfect tits and teeth subject because it affects both so greatly. As always, here are the facts to help you decide whether to use one at all and a few tips for weaning off:
The arguments for the use of comforters of the oral variety are:
- There is evidence that is can reduce the incidence of SIDS
- There is a suggestion that is encourages self-soothing
- Easier to wean off than finger/thumb sucking
- Shorter stays in hospital for preterm babies
- analgesic (pain-relieving) effects when undergoing immunisations, heel pricks etc
Now the arguments against. There are a lot of them so hold onto your pantaloons people, it’s going to be a bumpy ride.
- Evidence suggests that babies that use pacifiers don’t breastfeed for as long (no this doesn’t belong in advantages)
- Evidence suggests that babies that use pacifiers may have feeding cues missed which can lead to a lower milk supply (in boobs, not in the fridge) and slower weight gain
- Evidence suggests exclusive breastfeeding reduces the chance of SIDS by 50% and possibly higher so may even negate the use of a pacifier altogether
- Evidence suggests a baby using a pacifier has exactly the same sleep-wake patterns as a baby that doesn’t use a pacifier
- Don’t have the worry of weaning off unless they start finger/thumb sucking in which case amputation of thumbs or fingers is advised with no ill effect to dexterity. (Clearly a joke. Do not attempt to remove your child’s digits or you will almost probably be imprisoned.)
- Evidence suggests that pacifiers and bottle feeding leads to abnormal development of the muscles, palate and teeth – weaker muscles can lead to speech issues; narrowing of the palate and wrong alignment of the teeth can cause openbites or what is affectionately termed as ‘goofers’.
- Hicklety picklety teeth (also very technical terminology) and openbites (where the teeth don’t close together properly) can lead to lip incompetence (where the lips don’t close together properly) which in turn can make the mouth dryer and more prone to decay and gum disease.
- Use of pacifiers beyond the age of 3 has an increasingly harmful effect on the developing teeth and beyond the age of 5, it’s impossible to tell if they will even still be human.
- There is evidence that pacifier use is strongly linked to ear infections
- There is evidence that pacifier use increases the risk of tooth decay due to bacterial colonisation (they’re just shitting all over the place)
- There is evidence that pacifier use is linked with more frequent cases of diarrhoea (the bacteria again).
- There have been cases of asphyxiation when teats become detached – not going into this any more, enough said already.
Now that your fountain of generic mothering guilt has reached Bellagio heights, before you start reaching for the birch leaves to thrash yourself with, let’s look at ways to wean off.
You could say the dummy monster has eaten it and if they cry then the monster will eat them too. A bit harsh? Ok, a couple of good ideas I’ve seen are the ‘giving away’ ideas (creative lying I call it). This can be that on a given day, that the child has been pre-prepared for, the dummies are taken to be donated to other babies. I quite like the idea of taking them to a local hospital and donating them to new babies and then take them out for a reward for their good deed. The other ‘creative lying’ method I quite like the sound of is getting a local toy shop to except dummies as currency. Clearly, you have to pay with real money beforehand. A poundshop would be good as everything is the same price (obviously), which makes it simpler.
Then it’s just the small matter of getting them to sleep without it – like a hit and run, this is where I abandon you and wish you luck. *Repeats mantra* “Short term pain, long term gain…short term pain, long term gain…short term pain, long term gain.” Let me know how it goes….