And when I say “we”, I of course mean “why the baby uses a dummy, and why we encourage her”.
Our daughter is just under two months old now. I’m not sure where the time has gone!
She sleeps amazingly well (with some exceptions!) and doesn’t really cry very much. I think part of that is because she uses a dummy at night or when she needs a little extra soothing.
I know it can be a controversial choice.
There are several reasons we made the decision to encourage her to use a dummy.
Firstly, it can lower the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS, or cot death). We’re taking other measures to try and prevent this as well. For example, she sleeps in our room, in a bedside cot. But the Department of Health actually advises that babies who have a dummy at the start of their sleep may have a reduced risk of SIDS. That sounds pretty good to me.
It satisfies her need to suck. She is a very sucky baby – and I mean that in the nicest possible way! She loves to suck on bottles and would be attached to my breast all day long if I let her. But she doesn’t need to eat all day long, and I certainly can’t cope with breastfeeding 24/7, even though I’m hardening up and getting quite good at it now. Having a dummy lets her suck, gives my breasts a break, and means she’s not constantly eating to the point that she’s sick.
It helps her self-soothe. There’s something about the sucking reflex, I think, that lets her put herself to sleep much more easily than times we don’t give her a dummy. (Or the dreadful night when both Favourite Dummy and Second Favourite Dummy were not available, and we had to use Inferior Nuk. That was a rough night.) It lets her be a bit self-sufficient!
When her dad was about to go back to work, we wanted to make sure we were doing all we could to let him have a good night’s sleep. Putting the dummy in was a way of making that happen in our case.
She was going to suck on something anyway. Her hand regularly finds its way to her mouth. We had to make a decision – dummy or thumb/finger? As someone who sucked her thumb incessantly, I don’t want her to be a thumb- or finger-sucker. At least we can take a dummy away – have you ever tried taking away a six-year-old’s thumb?
We have of course found some problems with the dummy as well.
She doesn’t always take it. On the nights she doesn’t want it, she’s confused because it’s not in her mouth, she’s used to it being there, and she finds it harder to sleep.
Similarly, when she spits it out in the night, she sometimes wakes up and we play 58 rounds of Mummy, Please Put My Dummy Back In. It’s a fun game.
But in general, it’s so worth it for us!