Dummies are used to comfort children in their early stages of life, however prolonging the use of a dummy can lead to health problems, stunt language development and promote the incorrect positioning of teeth. Below are some of the adverse effects of using a dummy after 2 years of age, plus some tips and tricks to ditch the dummy!
Using a dummy past the age of 2 can lead to:
Incorrect positioning of teeth – upper teeth may be pushed more forward than normal. This can change the way the teeth meet when the child bites.
Mouth breathing – your child may tend to breathe through their mouth rather than their nose. This is often linked to long-term dribbling.
Speech and language problems – having a dummy in the mouth may not give children the opportunity to explore the full range of tongue movements to make all the speech sounds and they may have fewer opportunities to use sounds to communicate with a dummy in their mouth.
Tooth decay (especially the front teeth) – if the dummy is dipped in sugary substances such as honey or jam.
Some helpful tips and tricks for ditching the dummy:
Take some pressure off by reminding yourself that sucking a dummy never becomes a lifelong habit. Many children will stop using a dummy by themselves.
Choose your timing. A period of change or stress for you or your child might not be a good time to give up.
Talk to your child about giving up the dummy, if your child is old enough to understand.
When you and your child are ready, start by limiting dummy use to certain times and places – for example, the car or cot. This gives your child a chance to get used to being without the dummy.
Once your child is coping for longer periods without the dummy, set a time and date – then take away the dummy.
Mark the occasion of becoming dummy free with a celebration or special reward.
Finally, try not to turn back. No matter how well you’ve prepared your child for this change, expect some discomfort and some protest.
Some useful links and additional reading for parents: