Does the dummy suck?
#DavidBeckham has been under fire the last couple of days for 4 year old Harper, being seen out and about, using a dummy.
The dad-of-four reacted angrily on Instagram, defending his parenting.
The former England footballer said: "Why do people feel they have the right to criticise a parent about their own children without having any facts? You have no right to criticise me as a parent."
Research led by Clarita Barbosa, from the University of Washington, suggests that children who use dummies after three are more likely to have speech & language problems. Read about the research here
As paediatric speech & language therapists, here are our thoughts on the use of dummies.
Most babies have a strong sucking reflex and a dummy can, in many cases, help to settle a baby in the early months. So if your baby needs to suck ... it's fine.
However, try not to let a dummy become a habit. Use it at specific times, such as when settling baby down to sleep or when upset. Then take the dummy away.
Wait until your child needs the dummy rather than automatically giving it to them. Most importantly try to wean your baby off the dummy as soon as you can, preferably by 12 months.
However using a dummy too much or as a plug can lead to the following problems:
Mouth breathing - your child may tend to breathe through their mouth rather than their nose which can contribute to long-term dribbling.
Speech and language problems - your child may not use the full range of tongue movements that are necessary for making all the speech sounds. If a dummy is in a lot, your child has fewer opportunities to babble and to communicate with you.
Teeth problems - incorrect positioning of teeth so that the top teeth at the front don't meet properly with the bottom teeth. If a dummy is dipped into sweet things, tooth decay can set in.
Here are our top tips if you child uses a dummy:
- Flat orthodontic teats are better than traditional cherry teats, as they are less likely to affect the shape of the still soft upper jaw.
- ALWAYS remove the dummy when your child is trying to talk/make sounds.
- Try to get rid of the dummy around 12 months or sooner.
- Choose the right time to give up and once you have decided to give up the dummy, don't be tempted to go back.