My son had a dummy. I am a dentist and my son had a dummy. Dummies are not evil. They are not wrong. Some babies take to them and others do not. My little girl never had a dummy and has never sucked her thumb or fingers. Every child is different.
There is a lot of advice about when and how to get rid of a dummy use habit and again it is different for every child. Some recommend that a dummy should be removed before the age of 1. In my opinion, removing the dummy too soon can lead to the development of other habits such as finger or thumb sucking. It does not happen with every infant but it is a lot harder to discourage sucking a thumb than it is to remove a dummy.
The advice from the British Society of Paediatric Dentistry is that the use of a dummy should be stopped by the age the adult teeth come through which is usually around the age of 6 (BSPD- A practical guide to children’s teeth). My advice would be to try and do it before your child goes to school which is what we did with our son.
The reason it is important to get rid of the dummy before the adult teeth come through is to reduce the risk of a long term effect on the position of the teeth. The use of a dummy can lead to an anterior open bite (where the teeth at the front of the mouth don’t bite together), a posterior crossbite (where the upper back teeth bite outside the lower back teeth) and an increased need for orthodontic treatment (braces)
Our boy had a dummy from the day after he was born. I had intended for him not to have a dummy but due to a stint in the Special Care Baby Unit where he needed to be fed through a tube from his nose to his stomach, he needed something to suck, as all babies do. Hence the arrival of the Philips Soothie.
Following this, sometimes his dummy was the only thing that soothed him and it was often the only way he would fall asleep, so the dummy stayed.
reduced risk of SIDS in the first year
may help with soothing and settling
increased risk of middle ear infections
reliance on dummy to sleep
We started to reduce the use of the dummy when our son was 2 years old. From this point, the dummy was only available for naptime and bedtime to aid settling to sleep. This took some time and the only method we used was repeating ‘Dummies are for bedtime only’. He gradually got it. The dummies were placed out of reach during the day and he would only ask for them when it was time to go to sleep.
At the start of the sumemr holidays before going to ‘big school’ we introduced the idea that it was time for his dummies to go. In response to this he would say ‘not yet’. We explained that children who go to big school no longer have dummies. We enlisted the help of the dummy fairy workshop.
We explained to our son that babies needed his dummies and that the dummy fairy would be coming to get his dummies and take them to the little children who need them. We asked him what present he would like the dummy fairy to bring in return. We set a date and sure enough on the day in question, he put his dummies in the enchanted bag, sprinkled the fairy dust in and went to bed. It took him a little longer than usual to go to sleep but there were no tears.
The following morning, he rushed downstairs to see if the dummy fairy had been and sure enough his dummies were no longer in the enchanted bag and had been replaced with the present he asked for. The next few bedtimes took a little longer than normal but there were no tears and he didn’t ask for his dummy again.
I would highly recommend the resources at the dummy fairy workshop for helping an older child to get rid of their dummy in as gentle a way as possible. It worked for us and it’s worth a try if you are at the point where you want to get rid of the dummy.