For generations, African mothers frowned upon the use of dummies in favour of alternative soothing methods for restless and distressed children. The problem with most alternatives, however, is that they put babies at risk for a number of oral/dental health issues and high dental costs, later on in life.
As previously explained, breastfeeding offers your baby more than just nutrition through breast milk, as babies need to suck. Sucking aids the growth of the jaw and skull, which are the fastest growing part of baby’s body during the first 6 months of their life.
It is for this reason that parents need to carefully consider what they use to soothe their babies. Having a growing child use the wrong soother could negatively affect the growth of their skull, the strengthening of their jaw and the formation of their teeth.
Sucking on fingers, thumbs, bottles, and other objects could cause deformations such as open bites, overbites, bruxism (clenching), cavities (if there is something sweet in the bottle) and lead to mouth breathing, lip biting and more. Additionally, using the teat of a bottle as a dummy can cause tooth decay as the liquid in the bottle is often sweet. Even if it is just milk, milk often contains lactose (which is a form of sugar).
Seeing as babies cannot constantly breastfeed or suck on a bottle, soothers in the form of dummies are perfect for a number of reasons.
Firstly, brands such as NUK specialize in creating products that are orthodontically correct - meaning that they are both developed and approved by orthodontists, making them the best choice for your baby’s developing teeth.
All Nuk soothers have a shape that is not round but resembles a mother's nipple while breastfeeding. The neck of the teat is narrow, letting the lips close around it. The NUK Air System ensures that air can escape from the baglet at any time and so it always remains really flat. The heart-shaped mouth shield fits a child’s face in the best way possible, leaving plenty of space under the nose. Here is a video with more information.
NUK also has a range of soother sizes suited to babies at different stages of their growth (0-2 months, 0-6 months etc) to optimally suit the natural jaw development of the child depending on how old they are.
Secondly, it is easier to wean a baby off needing a soother as they don’t always use them, and they aren’t as readily available as a thumb - out of sight, out of mind!
According to experts, even when the need to suck eases off with time, it could be that you have to use a trick from around 3 years of age to start weaning your toddler off the dummy slowly. They also advise not rushing the process as soothers often provide toddlers and babies with a sense of security so taking them away too quickly could distress the child.
Lastly, the use of dummies has been proven to reduce Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), a phenomenon also known as cot death or crib death, which results in the sudden unexplained death of a child less than one year of age which often occurs in their sleep.
As the world shifts, grows and changes, so do ideas around parenting (and the world at large). Armed with the latest research and a highly recommended, professionally developed range of products, perhaps parenting could be a little easier - contributing to happier, healthier families.
Main Image Credit: Supplied