Baby Dummies and Pacifiers
Professional and community opinion is divided about the use of dummies.
Using a dummy provides a baby with non-nutritive sucking which is a natural thing for babies to do and it often helps calm and soothe them. Dummies are also called pacifiers or soothers in some countries. Professional and community opinion is divided about the use of dummies. In particular it is not recommended a dummy be used when breastfeeding is still being established (this can take up to 6 weeks).
If used correctly most dummies are safe, but as with all baby equipment there are safety risks of choking, strangulation and infection. The main safety concerns are:
- Strangulation due to the dummy being attached to a cord or chain.
- Choking, if parts are smaller than recommended size or the dummy is damaged or poorly constructed (does not meet the Australian Standards).
- Cuts and abrasions if your baby falls over while walking with a dummy in their mouth.
It is important the dummy you are purchasing meets Australian Standards. They must:
- Have a shield with ventilation holes to prevent suffocation if the entire dummy enters your baby’s mouth.
- Be strong enough not to break into small pieces that can cause a choking hazard.
- Not have strings or ties that could become wrapped around your baby’s neck. This has the potential to cause your baby to be strangled.
Baby dummy safety tips
If your baby uses a dummy ensure you:
- Check the dummy prior to giving it to your baby. It is advised you pull firmly on the teat while tugging on the dummy handle to ensure that under pressure it does not come apart.
- Buy a new dummy at regular intervals as they weaken with use and cleaning.
- Clean the dummy regularly by sterilising the dummy or washing in hot soapy water, rinsing and then air drying.
- If you are concerned about the condition of the dummy throw it away and use a new dummy.
- If your baby can remove the dummy watch them to make sure they don’t put the whole dummy in their mouths.
- If your baby is teething or chewing, avoid using the dummy, as chewing might cause damage to the dummy and cause it to be a choke hazard.