Use a dummy or not to use a dummy? That is the question
In the early days of your toddler’s life, you will have made a decision provide a dummy or not. If you chose to allow your baby to have a dummy, you may be worried about the consequences, as they grow older. Therefore, a decision needs to be made as to when it is time for dummies to disappear altogether. Considering some of the side effects of using dummies may help you to leave dummies behind.
The development of the tongue and lip muscles is important when learning to make sounds and eventually to speak. If your child has a dummy constantly in their mouth, then they will be holding their mouth in an unnatural position which may affect the development of these muscles. This could lead to speech problems as your child gets older.
If your child has a dummy in their mouth frequently during the day, this will inhibit their ability to actually make sounds and interact. It will mean that instead of babbling and exploring sounds, they will just be holding the dummy which can also slow down their speech development.
Babies naturally make sounds, and learn to make different noises by manipulating their mouths, lips and tongues. All this exploration is inhibited by a dummy. Once a child does start making sounds, you may notice that they sound like they have a bit of a lisp. This is because they are trying to talk but, as they are talking through the dummy air is escaping over their tongue affecting how the sound comes out.
Sucking on dummies has been strongly linked to otitis media, better known as middle ear infection. When your child sucks on the dummy, it can channel bacteria down the narrow tube between their ear and mouth. This can lead to recurrent ear infections. It can even affect the development of the structure of the mouth, which means that there is an increased build-up of mucus.
Prolonged use of dummies can even affect the growth of teeth. You may find your child has an overbite, where the bottom and top teeth don’t meet. Orthodontic dummies are a different shape to the traditional ‘cherry’ shaped dummies. These reduce the effect of the dummy on the teeth and are a better option of you are using one.
Whilst some parents use dummies to settle and sooth babies, as your child becomes a toddler the side effects mean that it is a good time to leave the dummy behind. Firstly, reducing dummy use to night times only will mean your toddler will reduce their reliance on them. It will also allow them to develop their speech. Once you are ready to leave dummies behind altogether, you may find that it only takes a few nights for your child to find other ways to settle and sooth themselves.