Let’s Talk About Dummies

For some children, dummies are a big source of comfort. Therefore, our advice is around how best to use dummies:

If I cry its my way of telling you something, try to find out what it is. I might not need my dummy”.

Before you put the dummy in your baby’s mouth try to find out if there’s any other problem.

They may just be bored and need a cuddle; try an interesting toy or book.

Without my dummy I can practise moving my tongue around for talking and my teeth will have room to grow”.

It is important that babies and children have time to practise moving their tongue; making sounds, babbling etc without obstruction in their mouth. A dummy can make it difficult for your child to practise the sounds needed for speech. It can push the tongue backwards making it difficult for the tip of the tongue to move around the front of the mouth. This is needed for the sounds ‘t, d, l, s, p, b’ which are made at the front of the mouth.

Try to have clear routines around the use of dummies eg at sleep times only. The dummy could be left in the cot or bed or in a small tub in the room. Your child will learn that the dummy is only for sleep time.

When we are unwell, we all need a little extra love and TLC. Your child may need their dummy as comfort if they are ill. This is fine; however, once they are feeling better try to get back to your routines.

When I have my dummy out, I will be able to chat with you more”.

Try to allow your baby to babble, gurgle and ‘talk’ to you. Only use their dummy if they are tired or upset. Remember, before a child can use words they need to go through the stages of babbling, shrieking, blowing raspberries and playing with sounds (they love it if you copy). These are all important for the development of speech and conversation. Leaving the dummy out means there are more opportunities to exercise the mouth and tongue ready for speech sounds to develop.

Having a dummy in the mouth for long periods of time can also affect how the teeth grow. Teeth need room to grow down; if there is an obstruction in the mouth for long periods teeth may grow around the obstruction, and children develop a distinctive oval shaped gap between their top and bottom teeth at the front.