Author: Tanya Greene
Tanya Greene is the founder of Sleep Right Sleep Tight. Tanya is a mum of four and a certified Sleep Consultant who has been working with children for over 15 years. She shares with us her inside knowledge and personal experiences with dummies.
A dummy can either be a complete life saver or a complete pain in the you know what!
A lot of parents who use a dummy feel a twinge of guilt the first time they stick it in their baby’s mouth. However, dealing with screaming babies in the grocery line or on a long car trip, will make most parents try just about anything they can think of to calm the child down!
Personally I was always against dummy use, until my first son was 4 weeks old! I can still remember sitting on the couch listening to his cries and absolutely nothing I did worked to calm him down. All he wanted to do was suck, but my breasts were so sore from the constant sucking I couldn’t stand the pain of putting him on again. My mother in law said ‘just try a dummy, it might help.’ I reluctantly went to the drawer I had hidden this unwanted gift and took out the dummy. Placing it in his mouth gave almost instant calm, all he wanted to do was suck on something. We were lucky that by the age of 7 months he had weaned himself off the dummy, which made for much more sleep.
Why dummies work
The truth is, dummies often work. Babies are born with the instinct to suck. Sucking soothes them and brings them comfort, which is why a baby will suck on just about anything you put in their mouth, whether it’s a bottle, breast, finger or toy.
However, babies are more than capable of learning to self-soothe when it comes to sleep, and dummy dependence can cause long-term problems. Many experts agree that dummy use up until about age one is okay (although can cause disruptions to sleep cycles). Anything past age two and there are some worrying issues.
Babies born early and dummies
If your multiples have been born early, you will more than likely find that the hospital has given them a dummy to suck on. When babies are born premature their suck reflex is not fully developed, making feeding very difficult. Giving them a dummy to practice their sucking, means that they are learning to master this suck reflex and feeding will slowly develop as well. If they create a suck dependence as newborns, it is ok! This is something that they need in order to move forward with their feeding to come home, and is a habit, if you want to, that can be broken once they are out of NICU/SCBU and feeding well.
Reasons you should consider ditching the dummy once your multiples hit toddlerhood.
Dummies interfere with the consolidation of night time (and often day) sleep. If your multiples are using a dummy to fall asleep, they will most likely wake in the night and then not be able to get back to sleep until they can find it. Even if the child isn’t bothering you to help, there are still times when it’s causing a full wake-up for retrieval. While brief wake-ups are common in the night, when a child is dummy dependent, it often leads to fragmented sleep, which can make for a tired and cranky toddler the next day.
Studies are now linking dummy use with recurring ear infections. In fact, children who use dummies regularly, are up to three times more likely to develop ear infections.
Around the age of one, kids enter into their speech development phase. This means they will start trying out sounds and words, and will often babble to themselves and others while they learn this new skill. If they constantly have a dummy in their mouths, they might be less likely to practice talking.
So how do you convince your triplets or twins to give up the dummy?
Some kids will start to phase it out themselves as they develop other coping skills around the age of two. But some won’t give it up without a fight!
Over a three-day period, you can start to wean your toddlers off the dummy by telling them they can only use it in the house. Whenever you go outside the house, tell them it stays behind until you come back.
Be prepared for a few tantrums and tears, but don’t give in. I have found that parents are often far more worried about the idea of taking it away, than the actual reality of it. Most children are over it within a day or two.
Are your multiples waking after only 45 minutes?
If you’re finding that your babies are waking after only 45 minutes during nap time, or frequently in the early hours of the morning, and sleep with a dummy, it’s more than likely the dummy use. Ditching the dummy at this age, prior to toddlerhood, is absolutely going to help your multiples to link those sleep cycles and get a much more consolidated sleep.
Good luck with this next phase! If we can be of any help with your sleep concerns, please don’t hesitate to let us know, we would love to support you through this.
Tanya Greene, founder of Sleep Right Sleep Tight. is a certified Sleep Consultant having completed a comprehensive training program.
My passion is helping each individual family get through those sleepless nights and bedtime struggles. Sleep deprivation affects us in so many aspects of life – emotional, mental and physical health.
To find out more about Tanya and her team at Sleep Right Sleep Tight, click here