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Dummy debate

The pros and cons

For parents and carers, the most important advantage of the use of dummies is their roles in helping babies settle down to sleep or to soothe them. However, there are a number of disadvantages associated with the use of dummies, most of which impact upon the child’s speech and language development.

Prolonged dummy use and thumb sucking for long periods each day can affect a child’s speech and language development, as well as teeth alignment. They also reduce babbling and a child’s experimentation with sounds which is an important step in learning to talk.

Speech and language therapists recommend that children over 12 months don’t use a dummy. If your child continually uses a dummy it may adversely affect speech and language development by restricting tongue movement. This change in the pattern of tongue movements may make your child speak later than other children, or make speech sounds unclear. Over use of a dummy may even create a gap between the front teeth, which may lead to a lisp.

Tips

Dummies may be useful in settling young babies and encouraging strong sucking patterns, but their specific usefulness declines after a developmental age of six months.

The increased risk of ear infections, dental problems and limiting of babbling and use of sounds are all good reasons not to give dummies to infants over one year old, especially during the day and when they are interacting with other children and adults.

Stop

Don’t let using a dummy become a habit for your child.

Think

A baby with a dummy has fewer opportunities to babble.

Do

It’s okay to use a dummy - providing it is used selectively and sensibly.