My opinion on this matter has been varied.
Being the oldest of 5, I have watched my mum raising all different types of children.
My sister was a demon child (i’m not offending her by saying this as she is well aware). She misbehaved and cried pretty much from the minute she was born. Just the most difficult baby/ toddler you can imagine. I always thought it was fussy babies who needed dummies, but I don’t remember her ever having one. If she did, I definitely have no recollection of her ever being attached enough that I noticed it.
My brother on the other hand was an angel. The most pleasant baby you could meet. Always happy, always smiling but he needed one. It was a comfort to him when he was tired, and if I remember rightly my mum never had any issues weaning him off them.
My niece however, really struggled. She used dummies from an early age right up until she was about 4. It was a comfort thing for her too, along with a cuddle blanket she would carry around with her (much the same as her cousin, and my boy Matthew). Her mum tried weaning her on several occasions and seemed to succeed, until her baby brother was born. This was when my sister discovered that she was stealing her little brothers dummies and hiding them in her room.
Now… I have read a lot on the issue of dummies, mainly when I was pregnant.
I wanted to do everything right and convinced myself that I was going to do it all by the book and avoid the use of dummies at all costs. How naive I was!
Any control I had over my pregnancy was taken away when my son was born 16 weeks premature. He was very sick, and spent a long time in hospital where his dad and I eventually began to help with his cares.
One day, when I was going through the drawers in the NICU I came across a collection of the smallest dummies I had ever seen. Now these were tiny, but my boy was so small that even they looked too big to use on him.
I asked the nurses about them and they told me that because Preemie babies are ventilated or need some help breathing, they can’t breast/ bottle feed and so they are fed through Nasogastric tubes. This means that they don’t develop the sucking reflex that a normal term baby does. So the NICU team, when putting together a plan to start breast/ bottle feeding a baby, include the use of a dummy throughout the day so as to encourage the baby to start sucking.
Matthews consultants told us how invaluable these tiny dummies are and that these little tools are fundamental in helping babies learn how to suck. They told us that all of the nonsensical arguments people have about the use of dummies in children are without evidence, and in actual fact that the use of dummies in babies can reduce the risk of cot death.
They told us the only issues with them are wear and tear and they therefore have to be cleaned and changed regularly, as well as that if they are used in excess by children who are teething, they can cause a rash on their chin, due to the over stimulated saliva.
These are the educated facts and findings of children’s doctors, and in particular, doctors who specialise in saving the lives of the most vulnerable and sickest of children.
Matthew is almost 2 and still uses his dummy, but selectively. If he’s tired and wanting to cuddle he needs one along with his cuddle blanket. However, he will go to bed and be able to sleep all night without one. So much so that we have never had to get up through the night to give him his dummy.
My opinion on the matter is simply this… If he wants one, he can have one.
I don’t care about the dirty looks and judgement from strangers, that means nothing. I think instead of reading through angry and “I know best” mum forums , I’ll just stick to the findings and advice of some of the most intelligent people I know, and wean him off them at his own pace.