Does a baby really need a dummy to be soothed?  If babies don’t really need that sucking motion to be soothed why do so many parents use them on their bubs? What’s an alternative way to soothe a baby rather than stick a dummy in his/her mouth?  Expectant mum

In short the answer to your question is ‘No’.  Your baby certainly doesn’t need a dummy to be soothed.  Dummy’s work because baby’s suck naturally and when a baby sucks, as in breast-feeding, certain endorphins are released in their brain, which cause them to relax.  We have all seen a baby breastfeeding and falling asleep, partly due to the endorphins from sucking, partly due to the sheer effort of feeding, partly due also to a full tummy and soon the sucking also becomes a sleeping cue to your baby to go to sleep.

Why do so many parents use them?  Well, partly because mothers everywhere use them and it is an aid and then the next wave of parents rather than question the use, just copy.  We know that if you come from a family where dummy’s were used you are highly likely to use a dummy.

I can strongly suggest do a bit of research about dummy’s and their history – surprisingly it is very interesting and checkered.  So to sum up for you medically, we know that they were written about for the first time 200 years ago.  Dummies in this era were a mixture of pacifiers for soothing and teething relief – cost about 10c at the beginning of the 1900’s.  Before this, they have been around for thousands of years in a different form, ‘rag bag’s’ is the given name where mothers tied a piece of material and inside they had food, meat, wheat, honey etc for their newborn baby to suck on.  Which begs the questions was this actually a dummy for soothing a crying baby or the first taste of food?

Very few studies have been done on dummy use however in my experience, you can certainly have a baby and never use a dummy.  How to soothe your baby?  If you know how much sleep and milk your baby needs and meet these needs early on then your baby will cry little and the use for a dummy is minimal.  If you protect your baby’s sleep and be consistent they will soon learn their own natural way to self soothe without the dummy.  Over time your baby will naturally after a few months find their own fingers to suck on and naturally over time again, stop sucking on their fingers before their first birthday usually.   I can also suggest a radio tuned to the classical channel on low in your baby’s bedroom during the day, they have come from a very noise womb environment and find this soothing and familiar.

Just for a bit of added information, there is some evidence to suggest that if your baby is bottle fed they will prefer a dummy and use it for longer and if they are breastfed, they will prefer to use their fingers however, I must add that when they repeated this study with another group of mums the results became questionable.

The choice is yours, however I have personally raised 3 children and never used a dummy once…

Nicole Pierotti

Written by Nicole Pierotti

© Copyright 2012. No reprinting or publishing without permission from writer. For permission or further information contact nicole@babysmiles.com.au.

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