Catherine from Dream Winks is a holistic sleep consultant. She shares with us her opinions on dummies for twins and more.
Lots of parents ask me what my opinion on dummies is, especially with twins or multiples. Some parents see them as a godsend when juggling two or more grumpy babies so they want to know what I think. While my answer is fairly simple the reasons behind it are not.
So, what is my take on dummies for twins and more?
Please take the time to read the whole article all as the information is very important to make an informed decision.
Do I recommend dummies – NO
(One exception is in NICU or Special Care under supervision when help is needed for learning to suck. In that situation, I recommend removing when you get home for the reasons below).
What about dummies for twins or more and your hands as a parent are so full?
Still NO (sorry I know I sound harsh but please keep reading to understand)
Ok so this is a pretty definitive answer and considering their wide use you are probably wondering how I can be so firm on the subject. So here are my reasons – there is always more but let’s have a look at things.
They are a sleep aid
If a baby falls asleep with a dummy then when they pass through a sleep cycle or it falls out they will cry for it to be replaced – this becomes more apparent as they get older. It may appear ok when tiny. You will find you are constantly needing to replace it. Now imagine running in and out for 2 or 3 or more babies each time it falls out.
Suddenly that little thing which seemed like a good idea to keep them happy is driving you insane! Some parents argue they use a toy that helps keep the dummy close or the child is able to replace themselves so it’s ok. The issues below are still happening in those cases.
A baby with a dummy is not self-settling.
So many parents contact me and say my little one self settles but when I ask they have a dummy. This may not seem relevant but when they are aware of their sleep cycles and start to wake looking for it as they can’t put themselves to sleep or back to sleep it is really relevant!
They mask the real issue.
Babies cry for a reason and to communicate. Offering dummies for twins or more masks the real reason and we don’t solve the problem.
Many parents don’t see this as that much of an issue as the little ones are happy for the car trip or while people visit etc. But they may have been crying because they had wind or they were overtired. Now time has passed, and what could have been a simple issue to solve without the dummy, is a bigger one and affecting getting them to sleep for their day sleep or meaning trouble settling down or sleeping well for the night.
Identifying and solving the problem as it happens is always much better especially when times by 2 or 3!
The constant sucking prevents babies and toddlers from reaching deep sleep.
This deep sleep is important for development and also for good quality sleep that is restorative.
Ok so people will argue this one saying that preventing deep sleep is preventative for SIDS. All babies will still surface between sleep cycles dummy or no dummy, sleeping through or frequently waking. We never stop this preventative waking. Babies that are sleeping well are just able to surface and drift back to sleep
I have seen babies with dummies get hungry faster.
This is because the sucking motion tells the body to digest food faster as they think more food is coming. So, babies can wake hungry more often with a dummy. This is another reason not to use dummies for twins and more.
Dummy use affects jaw and facial development.
Having a dummy in the mouth prevents the tongue from residing in the roof of the mouth where it should. Resting in this position helps to shape the architecture of the face not just the jaw.
Many believe this is only an issue if the dummy is still being used when adult teeth come in. However, jaw development starts in the womb and continues from there. So dummy use, even at a young age, has an effect on jaw and facial development. Which is a strong reason on its own not to use a dummy. This is a really big point for me. After seeing over and over the differences in facial development and jaw development with the use of dummies I just can’t back their use at all.
This is an issue that starts in the womb. Ok so your twins or triplets aren’t sucking a dummy in the womb (that would be quite the party trick lol!) but they can suck their thumb. It has been shown that facial and jaw development can be influenced even then, by thumb sucking in the womb. So dummy sucking is definitely an issue from birth. The developmental differences are big so definitely something you want to avoid.
Breastfeeding and dummies for twins and more
Breastfeeding helps with this jaw and facial development and is often a major reason in choosing to breastfeed. It is important to note that using the dummy when breastfeeding will negate a lot if not all of these positive effects on jaw and facial development.
Dummy use can negatively affect latch and interfere with breastfeeding both with latch and supply. We know tandem feeding is harder than feeding a singleton so avoiding anything that can make it even harder should be up the top of the list.
Long term dummy use is linked to speech development issues.
Again, people think that this is mostly an issue if using in the toddler years when speech starts happening but remember the changes in jaw development. This affects how the teeth come in which affects speech so it can definitely impact speech with use when younger
Dummy use also increases the risk of ear infections.
Dummies should not be used without supervision.
This is on the packet!! So, a child should never be left with a dummy when unsupervised which is what happens when they sleep. I don’t know how this one gets overlooked so often as dummies are left in for sleep even in hospital when they aren’t always supervised. When you have two or three or even more bubs you are not able to supervise all sleeps 24 hours a day!
A child crying or frequently waking is doing so for a reason so it is important to work out why. I know dummies can be convenient when out and babies are upset especially when you have multiples but I really believe that the negatives of dummy use way out weight any positives. I strongly recommend parents consider all these facts when considering dummy use and look at addressing why their little ones are upset and find other ways to manage and calm them
If your children already have a dummy I would recommend removing it.
Remember though that they are using it to settle so removing it means teaching self-settling. I only recommend this as the final step once we have ensured all their needs relating to sleep and settling have been addressed as in the way I do during my Consultations.
If you try to remove the dummy for twins or more without addressing everything else first, then it will likely be much harder than it needs to be or not work.
I know this may have raised questions. You may feel you need help with sleep in general or the dummy removal. If so, Dream Winks can help.