Between the ages of 2 weeks and 1 year, you will be able to introduce the usage of a dummy to soothe your baby. Some parents find dummies are a lifesaver when it comes to winding down, while others dislike them altogether. Whichever route you choose, it is important to figure out what works best for you and your baby.
Here are some advantages and disadvantages of dummy usage:
- Sucking a dummy imitates the same effect breastfeeding has on the baby, thus often helping it to settle instantly.
- A dummy also results in saliva production; this can ease the discomfort babies may feel while teething as well as reducing plaque build-up once they begin to grow teeth.
- If your baby is having trouble with feeding, a dummy can help to strengthen the baby's sucking reflex.
- Problems with a baby's ability to breastfeed and a mother's ability to build up a good breastmilk supply may arise if dummies are introduced too early. It is essential to ensure that you only offer your baby their dummy when he/she is not hungry to avoid interference with the breastfeeding process.
- If used consistently for several years (past the age of 18 months), your baby could have dental or speech complications. However, please note this only happens in extreme circumstances.
- Prolonged usage of a dummy may increase the chance of an ear infection.
- Dependence on a dummy can be troublesome, whether the baby needs it to sleep or if the baby continues using it throughout the teething process.
So, if you are considering using a dummy, where do you start? What kind should you get? For the most part, it's up to you. Quality dummies should already include things such as air holes on the shield and should be made up of only one component (so there's no risk of it breaking). Likewise, your choice of silicone or latex is a personal preference. Silicone is easier to clean, but latex has a more realistic feel. As for everything else, simply pick a style you like; Nuk, Dr Brown's, or Haakaa have many different colours and styles, many of which are available at Hatch.
To care for your dummy, if your baby is under the age of 6 months, you should sterilize the dummy (by boiling it). Once they are over 6 months, cleaning it with hot water will work just fine.