Kate Richie’s quest to help her daughter ditch the dummy

“Are we leaving the dummies out for the fairies… or dropping them at the local police station?” Got any dummy detox advice for her?

By Fiona Baker
Anecdotally, I reckon half of babies have dummies – 100 per cent of my three did. Sure, I beat myself up a bit with child number one after vowing pre-birth I wouldn’t let my progeny be one of those babies. She was happily gumming a dummy by two weeks old.
I didn’t even internally debate whether the other kids would have one – along with the huge stock of nappies, wipes and onesies, was a collection of dummies.
But with every child who has a dummy, there comes a time that dummy has to go. The truth is it’s best not to send your littlie to school chomping on a dummy (although it has happened).
Like Kate, my kids deposited their dummies with people they trusted somewhere between the age of two and three years. My eldest posted hers to Santa’s fairies (she was too scared of Santa to entrust him with her precious dummies). The middle child left his out for Easter Bunny to replace with equally tooth-decaying choco0late eggs. And the youngest left hers to other dummy-needing children in need.
In all cases it happened pretty seamlessly, despite each time me being gripped with some fear and sadness.
Here’s what Kate Richie posted on her Instagram page about her dummy rite of passage with her two-year-old daughter, Mae.

It was captioned: “Very serious chat in bed this morning. Are we leaving the dummies out for the fairies to collect one night or dropping them at the local police station today? #hercall#bigdecision#alsohappytoburytheminthegarden#morningcuddles #best”
She has received more than 120 comments from mostly dummy-detox well-wishers. And lots of advice.
  • “Santa took our dummies and left behind a Barbie Piano. Worked a treat. All in good time.”
  • “Santa came and got my daughters dummy (he can come at anytime!). We wrapped them all up and left them outside and then he came and he left her a present (book) and thanked her as her dummy's were going to a baby who didn't have any.”
  • “I dropped my sons off at police station 17yrs ago. Police were fantastic.”
This is my personal favourite for ingeniousness.
  • “We tried several times to get rid of the dummies without any luck. I came up with an idea that we bought some helium balloons that my son picked. We tied the dummies to the balloons and he let them go to the new babies who needed the dummies Worked a treat and hasn't asked for them since.”

Pros and cons of dummies
Everyone has a view on dummies. Those people who haven't had kids, or the rare ones who have the totally chilled chicken who doesn't desperately seek oral gratification 24/7, will poo-poo dummies and love to share their feelings anytime their around a dummy-chewing infant. "Oh, you baby has a dummy. None of mine ever did." and then they'll launch into chats about how their child slept through the night and ate brussel sprouts and broccoli for dessert.
But there are some advantages to your baby sucking a dummy - and the big and scientifically-proven one is: Reduces the risk of your baby dying from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). I didn't know that one at the time but I did know that when my babies sucked a dummy they seemed to settle a bit more quickly - and it gave my tortured breastfeeding nipples a wee break.
OK for the disadvantages - and I went to the Raising Children Network for these. This is the list:
  • Not all babies accept a dummy.
  • A dummy might make it harder to breastfeed in the first 4-6 weeks after birth.
  • Dummy use is linked to higher rates of respiratory infections.
  • Dummy use can lead to a higher chance of dental problems later in childhood – for example, a child’s teeth growing out of line.
  • Babies can get very upset when dummies are lost or misplaced.
  • Babies can become dependent on dummies to get to sleep.
  • If babies aren’t old enough to find their dummies and put them back in during the night, they’ll cry for help.

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