Friday, 2 May 2014


What is it about Dummies? Why are they so divisive? 
I am genuinely puzzled.

In many playgroup and gatherings Digger is the only kid with a dummy. I get these sideway glances from other mums... Especially if Digger drops the dummy, and then quickly – before I can get to it – picks it up and sticks it in his mouth again.

It’s like smoking. Yuk.

I know parent that are hell bent on breaking the dummy habit, or those who only in whispering tones can admit that their kids also use them – sometimes.

Yes, they are made of plastic. And Dad hate that Digger is wearing a piece of plastic in many, if not most, of the thousands of images we have taken of him.

Yes, there are germs involved. There are with all children. A lot.

And yes, admittedly, over time I have become a little less obsessed with sterile pacifiers, although they all get the regular spin in the dishwasher with the bottles on a hygienic setting.

And yes, it schhluurss Digger’s speech – if he speaks with it in his mouth.

And yes, he definitely drools more with it.

But I think dummies are good news. On the whole. It is a short stint in life. I don’t know any 5 year olds who use them. Except occasionally at night? To help them fall asleep and wards off monsters. I do know one person in his twenties who still suck his thumb. Charismatic, charming, high achiever. But that is very unusual, right?

Realms and realms have been written on pacifiers and dummies. Pros and cons. I can’t find much scientific evidence for them being as bad as their reputation, and if so only in extremis. I get the sense it is something else, people have against them. Some personal.

Personally, I was very happy that Digger came with this particular habit. He settles easily. He can be calmed down quite easily and very quickly from most episodes with tears with a dummy and his bunny.

Digger used it A LOT in the beginning of the placement – it would bob in and out of his little mouth, like Maggie and her oversized pacifier in the Simpsons. Characteristic, funny and cute.

First time I acknowledged I had finally arrived at parenthood, was when I tried to start the car with a dummy. Now they are everywhere. In my bag, my pockets, on tables, chairs, bed, car, bath…

Many adoptive children were never breastfeed. My son wasn’t. He went from hospital straight to his fostermum, Rosa. He never lived with his birth mother. So his was bottlefed. He quickly grew to a chubby baby in the arms of Rosa and remains a healthy child.

Babies are born with an ability to suck – it is, and was, how they are going to survive. Breastfeeding does bring about the ultimate physical closeness, and many studies have shown that breast fed babies spend longer feeding than bottle fed children. Well, I can never breastfed Digger. I wish I could have. Is Digger's dummy an allowance from me because I haven’t? Do I think that breastfeeding and dummy sucking goes on the same account of ‘sucking in childhood'? No, of course not. But I don’t mind it one bit, when we snuggle and cuddle too.

Sucking is calming. Clearly. Period. Digger sometimes seems to disappear into this dummy world of calm. This is his place of safety.

For these uprooted children dummies should be a good thing, no?

Dan Hughes endorses them, I was very relieved to learn.

Where I come from, there is a dummy tree in the park. There, children come with their parents when they are ready to give up. It’s a big day. Many children remember it well. The family celebrate this coming of age and there is often a significant present – chosen by the child.

I approve of Digger’s use. I don’t really encourage it, beyond grabbling for one, if he cries that cry that can be comforted by double whammy of dummy and bunny. And making sure there is an extra by his cot at night. He doesn’t really wake up a night asking for it. Now he often finds it himself again, and is learning how to fall back to sleep again. I know, because I can hear him when he rootles for it and when he finds it.

So when the time comes, I will help him stop this habit. In fact now that Digger’s language is coming on apace, he often likes to take it out to make himself heard. He too can hear how much better everything he says sounds without it. He is already using it less than he did when he first came to us. But it will be a while yet before he is ready to give it up, I think.

But I am confident he will give up his dummies. When the time comes. For now there are FAR worse things he could be doing.

Ahaparenting has posted this handy link on dropping the dummy. And Handinhandparenting has this nice little article.

I'd love to hear your view on the matter.


  1. My 3YO has never had a dummy (despite me trying!) but he has a comfort blanket for sleeping with, and he still has a milky drink out of a bottle at bedtime. And I think, well, is the sky going to fall down? Probably not. In fact, 'Birth to Five' sanctions the use of a dummy for bottle-fed babies, and a recent SIDS training course I went on suggested that settling a baby to sleep with a dummy may reduce the risk of SIDS. There's a lot of parent snobbery about - it takes a fair bit of strength of will to just carry on doing what your child needs in spite of all the glances and comments!

    1. Parent snobbery! Absolutely. That's what it is. Thanks for those two references (obviously collecting!) I've heard that about SIDS as well. And I shall have a look at Birth to Five ...
      And yes, it takes strength - but I'm there. ;)

  2. I have always been against dummies - and as an ex speech therapist I knew all about the harm dummies could do. So when we got matched with our daughter and found out she used a dummy I wasnt too pleased. However, within an hour of meeting her I changed my mind. She snuggled up on my lap with a special blanket and her dummy and fell asleep. Over time we realised the dummy had some magical calming powers that we couldnt recreate with cuddles or kisses. If she had a 'crazy' ten minutes playing she would have a two minute snuggle with her dummy which would regulate her again. Thankfully we have become a big part of this too and she loves her snuggles with us (and dummy) now. Just a few months ago I was saying that I didnt care if she had it when she was ten as long as she was happy.
    However, we then started noticing she wanted it more and more, refused to take it out and would avoid speaking if she had it in. Her speech is already delayed to we were getting concerned. We have absolutely no plans to take it away as we see huge benefits in it, but we are limiting how much she uses it. Sleep and nap times are fine, as are times she needs to regulate, but if she is playing then we take it away. At the moment this is working fine and we feel its a good balance.
    You know you child best, you will know if its becoming an issue for him or you, but until then go with what feels right x

    1. Thank you for this. Yes the dummy has magic powers. Well said.
      How long have you had her? Digger used his A LOT in the beginning, and still uses it more when he is feeling sad/insecure/frightened etc. Recently usage was on the up again, but now it is back down. And it is a downwards trend.
      The peer pressure as they get older is tough, and I hope that we as a family can help him before that would become an issue. Having said that, since I wrote this blog, I have meet several 4,5,6,8 year olds with dummies, and more that still suck their thumb. Hmmm one to watch. Meanwhile… let's enjoy the magic moments. ;)