For parents and carers, the most important advantage of the use of dummies is their role in helping babies settle down to sleep or to soothe them. Some studies show that dummies can help establish good sucking patterns in very young babies, especially those born prematurely.
Several research projects have begun looking at a correlation between dummy sucking and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), and whether using a dummy lowers the risk of SIDS. This area of investigation is very new and SIDS support organisations do not recommend the use of dummies as a preventative measure.
There are a few disadvantages associated with the use of dummies. Some of these impact upon the child's speech and language development. The World Health Organisation say that dummy use may encourage the child and mother to stop breast feeding earlier than is in the best interests of the child. Other concerns raised by various professional groups include the increased risk of:
Advice for Parents & Carers
There is a lot of confusing advice available about the use of dummies and it is important to be aware of the range of arguments.
Dummies can be useful in settling young babies and encouraging strong sucking patterns, but their specific usefulness declines after a developmental age of about six months. There is useful advice and tips on reducing dummy use here.
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