article icon

Dummies for babies

Dr Karen Martin
Reviewed by Dr Karen MartinReviewed on 19.10.2023 | 2 minutes read

It’s an endless debate about whether dummies (or pacifiers) are good or bad for your baby.

There are a few hard and fast rules, but other than that, it’s up to you.

In the first few weeks, there's evidence that dummies can bring breastfeeding to a close early, as the baby is just getting used to the sucking action needed for feeding and the mom’s milk supply. Once breastfeeding is established, the general advice is that dummies can be introduced, as it doesn’t cause the same disruption.

Let’s talk you through the pros and cons of dummies.

What are the advantages of dummies?

Dummies can help soothe your unsettled baby and help them fall asleep - hence the name pacifier. They can also offer convenience for a parent to settle a baby.

There is some evidence that dummies can prevent sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) - it’s not clear exactly how, and other factors may be at play, such as a dummy means a baby is less likely to roll onto their fronts or get covered by blankets. Parents may also be more attentive when there is a dummy involved.

What are the disadvantages of dummies?

If started too early, dummies can affect a baby’s ability to breastfeed and, therefore the milk supply, as the baby spends time sucking elsewhere, reducing milk production and affecting the baby's feeding and potential weight gain.

It can also affect how a baby attaches to the breast as they get used to sucking a dummy.

Dummies can be a source of infection as they get dropped and come into contact with lots of different surfaces.

Prolonged use of a dummy can also affect how your baby’s teeth grow, risking misalignment and overbite. You can buy orthodontic dummies that aim to prevent this. Dummies can also prevent them from making sounds and forming words, which can have a detrimental effect on speech development if dummy use is prolonged.

It is strongly recommended to stop using dummies well before the age of 3 months, but – as parents and your baby become reliant on the dummy – it is significantly harder to stop dummy use if it’s continued beyond the age of 6 months.

How can I stop my baby using the dummy?

Your baby or child will benefit from learning how to self-soothe to sleep without using the dummy. So, consider different ways to soothe your child – perhaps increasing the amount of skin-skin contact, hugging, or nursing your child more frequently.

You may decide to go completely cold turkey if you think your child can handle this, but it is best not to choose a time when the baby is unwell or there is already a disruption to routine. If you want a slower approach, restricting usage to certain times of the day may be a good way to phase them out.

Was this helpful?

Was this helpful?

This article has been written by UK-based doctors and pharmacists, so some advice may not apply to US users and some suggested treatments may not be available. For more information, please see our T&Cs.
Dr Karen Martin
Reviewed by Dr Karen Martin
Reviewed on 19.10.2023
App Store
Google Play
Piff tick
Version 2.26.6
© 2024 Healthwords Ltd. All Rights Reserved