Worried parents sometimes ask me, ‘Are dummies bad?’ Fortunately, the answer is…very rarely! Sucking in fact has great benefits for babies!

DO Let Your Baby Suck!

A love of sucking is genetically passed from parent to child—one generation to the next—just like hair colour or freckles. Sucking is a terrific, comforting ‘routine’ that triggers a baby’s calming reflex. An entire chapter of The Happiest Baby on the Block is devoted to sucking —it is the 5th and final ‘S’ of the 5 S’s method for soothing babies. So, not only am I unconcerned about babies sucking, I encourage it!

Cleaning Dummies

Always wash a brand new dummy with soap and hot water before giving it to your baby. If it falls out of her mouth and onto the floor (and it will! more times than you can count!), rinse it off with water. Putting it in your mouth to clean it can pass along germs (colds…even herpes).

Dummies at Bedtime

Research shows that letting a baby suck on a dummy while falling asleep can lower the risk of cot death. There is no shame in the dummy!

When to Go Easy on the Sucking

Strong sucking can create pressure inside the ear. If your child’s ears are frequently infected, cut back on dummies, and when she is drinking from a bottle, be sure to keep her head up a bit. Consider switching her off the dummy to a cuddly lovey, like a blankey (safe after your little one has passed the one year mark). And, using an ‘auditory lovey’ that makes soothing white noise sounds at night may help reduce the need for night sucking.

Beware of Sugar-y Sucking

Milk and fruit juice have tons of sugar. Sucking on a bottle or sippy cup of either of these for 20 minutes may cause cavities. So, if your child loves juice, keep the sucking time short. You can also add a bit more water every day to gradually dilute it. Or better yet, switch to a naturally sweet, caffeine-free tea like mint or chamomile.

Saying Goodbye to the Dummy

Sucking helps toddlers calm themselves too—especially those who are shy or under stress. Most toddlers are ready to wean off the dummy by 2-4 years. So from time to time, mention to him,’When kids turn 3, the dummy fairy flies away with old dummies and brings back new toys! I wonder what she will bring you!’ Do not say the fairy gives dummies to new babies. Your child might resent the next little guy he sees sucking on what he thinks is his ‘old friend!’ Prolonged dummy use does not always cause dental problems, though thumb-sucking may cause buckteeth. Ask your healthcare provider or dentist to check.

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Disclaimer: The information on our site is NOT medical advice for any specific person or condition. It is only meant as general information. If you have any medical questions and concerns about your child or yourself, please contact your health provider. Breastmilk is the best source of nutrition for babies. It is important that, in preparation for and during breastfeeding, mothers eat a healthy, balanced diet. Combined breast- and bottle-feeding in the first weeks of life may reduce the supply of a mother's breastmilk and reversing the decision not to breastfeed is difficult. If you do decide to use infant formula, you should follow instructions carefully.