I hated dummies. I really did. I was determined that none of my kids would ever have one. I would never judge a parent for giving their child one, but I have to admit to doing a little inward shudder when I saw babies with one in their mouth, or a toddler running around sucking on them.
Not only did I think they looked awful, I was worried about the effect that they would have on speech development and getting them to give them up. I really did hate them.
Then Benjamin became ill, and everything changed.
On his first night in the High Dependency Unit in hospital, where he was being treated for severe jaundice and sepsis, he was on a drip to keep he hydrated and increase his sodium levels, so he wasn’t allowed a bottle. Three week old babies have the natural instinct to suck, whether on a bottle, a boob or a dummy. To calm him down, the nurses made him a makeshift dummy out of a disposable bottle teat stuffed with cotton wool (to stop him sucking in air). It instantly soothed him. The next day they found him a proper dummy – and he has had one ever since.
Now, whilst I would rather him not have one, I have realised that it is something he wants, and something that soothes him. It’s not the awful thing I thought it was. They are only babies for such a short time – if something makes them happy, let them have it. It can also give you a bit more peace at night! It also can apparently help reduce the risk of SIDS, which in my eyes can only be a good thing.
I still hate the look of it – I’ve got too many photos where he has one in his mouth, but now that he is almost eight months, we are very slowly trying to cut down on how often he has it. I try not to let him have it whilst he is having a crawl around or play, and when he hits twelve months, I’m hoping we can wean him off it apart from naps, nights and in the car.
I used to think (naively) sucking thumbs was better than dummies – for the simple reason that children can’t really play with a thumb in their mouth the same way they can with a dummy, but actually, that’s pretty daft. You can take a dummy away – you can’t take a thumb away. You sometimes see adults sucking their thumb but you never see teenagers sucking a dummy!
What are your thoughts on dummies?