When O was born, I was pretty dead-set on how I was going to parent. I was going to be the perfect mother and have the perfect baby. I was going to exclusively breastfeed, he wasn’t going to suck his thumb or have a dummy. I had even considered going the whole hog and using cloth-nappies too. I was so hung up with how other people would see me as a mum, that I was determined to make all the ‘right’ choices.
For eight long weeks, I battled through endless bouts of mastitis and painfully sore blocked ducts before my husband snapped and gave him a dummy. I was devastated. I cried a lot. Should I give my baby a dummy?! I thought he was going to become so attached to this piece of plastic and I hated it. I knew other mother’s would be silently judging me for letting him suck on a giant mouthpiece to ‘shut him up’.
The thing was, it wasn’t to ‘shut him up’ at all. O was an incredibly sucky baby and wanted to use me as his dummy almost constantly, which partially caused all the problems I was experiencing. Even at my 12 week pregnancy scan, he was photographed sucking his thumb – it was inevitable that he would want something to suck for comfort.
Shortly after his first birthday, we limited the ‘dodee’ to car journeys and bedtime. He kept his dummy until he was just over two and a half years old. After we had him potty trained, we explained that his new baby friend needed the dummies and he happily gave them up completely. Well, with a few unsettled nights to start with.
Fast forward to baby number two…
One morning around six weeks in, I was taking a shower and hubs was looking after Q downstairs. He was crying and crying and wouldn’t settle, no matter what he did. It turns out he was tired and had been used to feeding to sleep. Hubs broke out the dummy and he settled. Although I was mad with my husband when he initially introduced it to Q, it is better that he can go to sleep sucking a dummy rather than relying solely upon me for comfort. He isn’t one to suck on it for no reason and only seems to take it when he’s tired. Which I suppose is a good thing! What’s really sweet is that Q seems to like holding a muslin cloth too – now known as his rag. They’re both so similar in so many ways, but quite different when it comes to their chosen comforters.
I asked some other mummies what their children used for comfort and was surprised at how many of their children used dummies too. Maybe they’re not as frowned upon as I was led to believe?
Alex from lambandbear.co.uk says, “Lamb had a dummy until January this year (he was 3 in March) and he has a dog comforter teddy which used to go with him everywhere and he wouldn’t sleep without it, now he’s a little older he’s not as attached to it but still asks for it at bedtime.”
Beth from life-as-mum.co.uk says, “My eldest had her dummy until 4 years old. It was her comfort. Her choice to stop. Also when she was younger, from newborn up to around 2 years she used to love holding my little finger as comfort. My youngest had a blankie which is her comfort, never had dummies.”
Kat from fraunaish.co.uk says, “My son had a dummy just for sleeping until about 2 1/2. What he loves now is me gently ‘scratching’ his arm up and down. If he struggles to sleep this will work every time.”
Kaz from icklepickleslife.co.uk says, “My youngest three had ‘sheetys’ and dummies too. My eldest had her dummy and they all had great comfort from them.”
Other’s had muslins or comfort blankets…
Laura from dearbearandbeany.com says, “My eldest daughter got attached to her muslin cloth and as she got older it had to a pink one. She would have to go to sleep or when she got upset. She doesn’t have it anymore, she just stopped asking for it. Weirdly my youngest daughter is the same wants a muslin to hold in her hand when she goes to sleep, but she will have any muslin cloth.”
Ally from motherundermeasure.com says, “I have two blankies to make sure I always have one available even if I need to wash the other! Never had a dummy though, he tried it once and hated it! It was a win for me as it meant I wouldn’t have to wean him off!”
Alina from wemadethislife.com says, “My daughter still has a minnie mouse comforter she sucks. She is now 5! It needs washing every week as it smells! She’s only allowed it in bed though!”
And then there’s the rest…
Lauren from belledubrighton.co.uk says, “My oldest found her thumb at a few months old, she still sucks it now at 3 when she’s tired or needs comfort. She also has a blanket but that doesn’t leave the house! She drags it around by the labels, which is something I loved to do when I was smaller apparently. My youngest is 14 months and so far hasn’t got a comforter, doesn’t suck his thumb or have a fave toy no matter how hard I try! His comfort is breastfeeding so no idea how long we’ll continue for!”
Beth from twinderelmo.co.uk says, “My daughter has to lie on on top of her panda and rocks herself to sleep! Both twins love tatty ikea teddies and can’t sleep without them to cuddle.”
Alyssa from mumtoamonster.com says, “J had a thing for labels. He twiddle them. Didn’t have to be a certain one but it did have to be one with 2 layers so it was noisy when he twiddled it.”
Ali from muminanutshell.com says, “My eldest liked to hold my ears, my middle held my hair for comfort & my youngest is a boob man! (Trying to get him to switch to a teddy for obvious reasons!)”
I don’t have a statistic that I can share, but I’d hazard a guess that the majority of babies and toddlers have some form of comforter. A lot of them use dummies, some of them use blankets, others suck their thumb or have a special toy. They’re all a means to an end and fit for purpose. They generally give them up at a reasonable age – when they’re ready to.
If we’re using dummies responsibly, it’s unlikely that they’re going to delay their speech or give them cock-eyed teeth. The use of his dummy hasn’t affected his ability to breastfeed, although I’m aware it can happen, and I personally prefer the use of a dummy to a thumb. Each to their own, though, huh?
At the end of the day, I suppose I’m asking that you don’t judge me, my kid needs comfort.