Should I Give My Baby a Dummy? by Tessa Little


I had somehow assumed that in the world of parenting there are two distinct camps: those who are for their baby having a dummy/dummy and those who do not want their child to rely on one for comfort.  My parents have five children (we’re all adults now, some of us with children of our own) and as babies, none of us had a dummy. It therefore came as a surprise to my siblings and me that with each new grandchild, our mum was the biggest advocate for getting the baby a dummy/ pacifier.  Intrigued by this change in her stance, I asked her why although she didn’t give us a dummy, she seemed to make it her mission to ensure her grandchildren got one. She gave a sob story about how dummies were not easily available when we were babies.  Before your eyes start welling up, this was not true. It did however make me think about the dummy/no dummy debate.

On one side we have THE PROS…………


My nephew used a dummy till he was two and I asked my brother why they started using one.  He said that as my nephew did not breastfeed, on our mum’s advice, they used the dummy to comfort him.  From the start he loved it and would happily suck away until he fell asleep. If he woke up in the night, after being changed and fed, giving him the dummy would send him back to sleep.  As he got older, if he woke in the night, he would retrieve the dummy from the corner of the cot and pop it into his mouth.  He is not alone as I know a number of babies of various ages, who enjoy the comfort that comes from having their dummies.


As a mum I can say that there are few things worse than a crying baby, especially when the baby is your own.  In the early months I was actually willing to put aside my long held ‘no dummy’ view when our little one seemed inconsolable.  However, the first time we gave one to her she spat it out immediately and continued crying, defying her grandma wishes.  There were sometimes I wished that she would have accepted it that day as it would have possibly averted many a screaming session. I have many friends whose babies easily accepted and willingly used a dummy and I have been known to look on with some level of envy as cries and wails subside when the dummy is used.


If a price can be placed on peace and quiet, dummies deliver amazing value for money. Even mid to high end brands are relatively inexpensive and as baby grows (or dummies get lost or damaged) getting a replacement is easy.

However, there are the Cons…….

Breaking attachment

Hands up if you are concerned about how you will get your baby to stop using a dummy!  My nephew was two when his parents decided it was time for him to say goodbye to his. Apparently, he was very upset about this for two days and then forgot about it. A woman I met while shopping said that her son threw the tantrum of a lifetime when she finally refused to give it to him. He is nearly three.  Just like adults, babies need time to get used to change but its not always easy to go through this process.

Dental side effects

One concern about dummy use is the effect it has on the formation of baby’s teeth.   The NHS state that prolonged dummy use can change the way the teeth grow, leading to potential longer -term issues when permanent teeth eventually emerge.

Speech Development

Some professionals are of the view that dummy use hampers speech development as it prevents babies from mimicking sounds.   Having a dummy prevents the tongue from making the full range of movements necessary and may result in delayed speech if this isn’t managed.

So, the conclusion of the matter…….

Wherever your stand in this debate it is comforting to note that finding a child heading off to school with a dummy is extremely rare.

The NHS guidance on dummy use is that the choice to use one is a decision made by parents.  It is advised that parents wait until feeding is established before introducing the dummy and that its use should be discontinued by the age of one. Doing so would help prevent the issues previously mentioned regarding speech development and teeth formation.

I suppose like most aspects of parenting there are the official guidelines from the professionals and then there is the real-life scenarios that play out in homes across the country and across the world.

Although we did not use a dummy (sorry mum), I think if you need one to ensure that your little one settles and that you have peace, then get one.  Parenthood has enough challenges.