The old saying: “Kids don’t come with a manual” does not ring truer when it comes to letting go of the dummy!
It’s understandable that our little ones will fiercely protect their dummy. Dummies are one of the only items in their life over which they have complete ownership. Adults and older siblings do not use or play with ‘their’ dummy.
Not only that, removing the dummy is perhaps one of the first real parenting hurdles. It can be the first time, as a parent, we’ve entered into negotiations. We’re doing ‘the right thing’, but this can result in a lot of trauma (at the time) for your little one.
It’s no surprise then, that so many of us cave to the toddler’s relentless requests for their dummy and subsequent upset if these are refused!
It’s recently been revealed that over half of us (52%) don’t know the right time for children to give up the dummy, putting teeth and speech development at risk.
The NHS advises parents should stop giving the dummy between 6 and 12 months old*. Using dummies after this can encourage an open bite, which is when teeth move to make space for the dummy. There is also a concern that it may also affect children’s speech development.
The rule of thumb is – children should not have a dummy once they are forming words.
But, nearly 1 in 5 men demonstrated a laissez faire approach to parenting, believing that children will let go of the dummy when they are ready to do so – avoiding the battle altogether!
Laura Smart, dentist at Birmingham Dental Hospital and Leicester CDS-CIC, says: “Children who use a dummy or suck their thumb are more likely to have problems with the way their teeth bite together than children who don't. The risk of this happening increases the more the child uses a dummy and the older they are when they give the dummy up.”
The reality is that, with nearly 9 in 10 parents allowing their children to use a dummy and half using it for too long, many parents need help to encourage their toddlers say “toodle-loo” to their dummies.
This same dilemma was faced by dad of two, and Dumbleby Forest author, Mark White. He said: “My wife and I had tried all sorts, but our daughters are incredibly strong-willed, and to be honest we took the path of least resistance for too long. They found it incredibly hard to say goodbye to the dummy and only did so after I created a magical world for the dummies to disappear to called Dumbleby Forest.”
Mark’s bedtime story to help parents and little ones say goodbye to the dummy has now been realised in a beautifully illustrated children’s book available from www.dumblebyforest.com for £5.79 or it is also available from Amazon.
Safe dummy use
Never use a dummy with a neck cord or other attachments as this may lead to choking.
Don’t force your baby to take a dummy or put it back in if your baby spits it out.
Don't put anything sweet on the dummy.
Keep it as clean as possible by regularly sterilising as you would any other bottle or feeding teat.
Check dummies regularly as cracks, splits and holes can trap germs.