Soothers - Friend or Foe?
Soothers, dummies, pacifiers – we have many
different names for them and they are a life saver for many parents! Why do soothers work for babies? Babies have a very strong sucking reflex so sucking can often have a strong
and calming effect on infants. They may suck their thumbs or
fingers if they don’t have a soother. So should you give your
baby a soother? That is up to you as a parent but we have listed
the advantages and disadvantages below to help you make this decision.
- A soother
can help to calm and relax a baby. When they are sucking on
the soother, they calm down, stop crying and relax.
- If your
baby is crying for a bottle, the soother can calm them while you prepare their bottle.
- Sucking a
soother can help your baby to fall asleep as they are calm and relaxed.
has found that soothers can reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome.
- They are
disposable. When it is time for your child to stop, you can
throw the soother away. This is not possible if the child
sucks their thumb or fingers.
- Sucking a
soother may interfere with breastfeeding. Sucking on a breast
if very different to sucking on a soother or a bottle and so it is better to wait until breastfeeding has
been established before giving a soother. Also, when choosing
a soother, try to get one that is designed for breastfed babies.
use of a soother can cause dental problems later with the positioning of teeth
advise that children should be weaned off soothers before they are two as they can be linked to reduce
can become dependant on the soother and it can be difficult to stop the use of the
can increase the number of middle ear infections
Using a Soother
weighed up the circumstances, if you do decide to give your child a soother, then follow some basic tips as
- Wait until
breastfeeding is established
- Try not to
give the soother straight away if your baby is crying. First
try to change their position, speak in a soothing tone or rock the baby to calm him/her.
- Keep the
soother clean! Don’t suck it yourself to clean
it. If you are still sterilising, have a few soothers so
that you have spare soothers ready if the soother you are using is not clean.
- When buying
a soother, check that it has passed safety guidelines
soothers where they are worn or damaged. A loose piece of
rubber could be a choking hazard.
- If your
child is continuously getting middle ear infections, discuss with your GP if the soother could be adding to
- Never tie a
cord or string to the soother as it could danger if it becomes wrapped around your baby’s
Giving Up The Soother
So what about
when you want the child to give up the soother? Many children is
stop using the soother on their own, between the age of 2 and 4. In
some cases, the child will not stop voluntarily and you may need to encourage and help your child to
stop. Chat to other parents for tips about how they weaned their
child off the soother and consider some of the following suggestions:
- Reduce the
use by using star charts with reward stickers to encourage your child to gradually wean themselves off the
distraction to take the child’s mind off the soother when they look for the soother.
- Talk about
your child being a ‘big boy’ or a ‘big girl’ now to encourage them to stop
- If someone
you know has a new baby, maybe suggest that he/she gives the soother to the baby
- Arrange to
leave the soother out for the ‘fairies’ or ‘santa’ and when they take it away, they will leave a small
So keeping all
of the above in mind, make your own decision about what you want and what works for you and your
baby. Remember, every child is different so make your decision on
what works for your family and not what other people are “advising” you to do!