Dummies or Pacifiers

Dummies or Pacifiers as Soothers

Many parents are adamant they will never use a dummy but soon change their minds if they are faced with a crying, fretful baby. A dummy can be an invaluable aid to the parents of an unsettled baby, especially if they are also the parents of multiple siblings.

Some babies are more ‘sucky’ than others – they find it harder to settle themselves to sleep and will cry every time they are put down for a nap. This can also apply to a baby suffering from reflux. The use of a dummy to calm and pacify the sucking reflex helps a baby to soothe and settle themselves without further intervention from their parent or carer.

Two-thirds of mothers have used a dummy at some time in their baby’s developing years.

The NHS points out in their guidelines that there is some research that suggests use of a dummy to settle your baby to sleep could be a possible way of preventing the risk of cot death.

If you intend using a dummy, it is important to be sure that it is used only to settle your baby, not as a sucking substitute if the baby is still hungry or in any form of discomfort. Avoid the use of a dummy until breastfeeding habits are well-established and you are confident your crying, unsettled, baby is not hungry.

Most of the negative use of dummies relates to prolonged or unnecessary use in an older baby or young child

The positives of the use of a dummy are:

  • A dummy can help settle your baby to sleep when all else has failed.
  • A dummy can comfort and soothe a baby with reflux discomfort or colicky pains.
  • A dummy can satisfy the sucking reflex of a baby that wants to suck his fingers but is too young to do so.
  • If it is necessary for you to travel by plane with your baby, a dummy can help to eliminate the pain in a baby’s ears when taking-off or landing.
  • If it becomes a necessary practice to use a dummy, it is suggested to only use the dummy as a sleeping aid.

Once the baby is asleep, do not continue putting the dummy back in the baby’s mouth. If a baby will not settle and continues to be unsettled, there will be some other reason he is continuing to wake such as the following:

  • He may have had a bowel motion.
  • He may still be hungry (a little top-up could do the trick).
  • Wind or tummy discomfort can often unsettle a baby.
Last but not least, it could just be one of those confusing days and tomorrow you’ll be back on track.

Babies seem to favour one type of soother and you will need to find out which works for your baby. You can buy silicone (the transparent ones), latex (the yellow ones), round or oval ones. The following are popular dummies for babies:

  • MAM Dummiest – these come in a container which can be sterilised in the microwave and they also glow in the dark
  • Philips AVENT Soothert – good-quality dummies, which also glow in the dark
  • Tommee Tippeet – good design, similar shape to a nipple and the dummies also comes in a hard case
If you would like to recommend any dummies you think we should mention, please email your recommendation to [email protected]

Key Points To Take Away

  • Dummies can be an invaluable aid to help a crying and unsettled baby
  • It's found that two thirds of parents have used them at some point
  • Make sure dummies are only used to settle a baby and not as a substitute to feeding if the baby is still hungry or in discomfort
  • Introduce dummies after breastfeeding habits are established
  • Most negative uses are related to older babies or young children
  • If your baby will not settle, there may be another reason why they are not settling. It could be because your baby is still hungry, they have a dirty nappy or they may have wind or tummy discomfort
  • If your baby is asleep, do not put the dummy back in their mouth