Before Zak was born, I had some really idealistic views on how I would parent: he wouldn’t have any lurid plastic toys, he wouldn’t have processed food and he most definitely wouldn’t have a dummy. Anyone who is a parent in the real world knows how ridiculous some of these ideals are!
I was determined that Zak wouldn’t have a dummy. Knowing that it can be difficult to “wean” a baby from a dummy and the speech and language difficulties that can be caused by prolonged use, I thought that it would be best to never introduce one in the first place.
Ah, how naïve I was!
On Zak’s second day, I found myself outside Mothercare, waiting impatiently for the doors to open so that I could buy two things: a feeding pillow and a dummy. I vividly remember walking through Mothercare that day, but for a strange reason. You see, just before leaving the hospital, I had some skin-to-skin time with Zak and that amazing newborn baby smell was just wafting out of the top of my shirt. Isn’t it funny what things you remember so vividly? I do miss that smell. These days, he smells mostly of flatulence.
What I wasn’t prepared for was the vast array of dummies available. And pretty much all of them guarantee that your baby will accept them. Well that’s a load of rubbish! In the end, Zak only accepted one type: Nuk dummies. So we cleared Mothercare and Amazon out of all available stock.
But were we dummies for introducing Zak to a dummy?
Of course, there are plenty of articles out there that will fill you with dread about the ill-effects of dummies. To save you Googling, here’s one from La Leche League. But dummies worked for us.
As Zak got a little bit older and we began to introduce a bedtime routine, we found that giving him a dummy to go to sleep was a consistent signal to him that it was time to go to sleep. It did mean that we spent a lot of time putting it back in for him when he woke up and realised it had fallen out, but over time he learned to do this himself and it has really helped him to self-soothe. We never advocated sleep training or anything like that, but having a dummy worked for all three of us in the evening.
My biggest fear was that Zak would have speech difficulties because of his dummy. However, he learned pretty quickly that it was much easier to talk without his dummy in his mouth. Of course, we always take it out if he tries to babble with it in, but he mostly does that himself now.
We have found that having a dummy is especially useful when we are flying. A lot of the flights we take are to Northern Ireland, so we’re only in the air for around 35 minutes. By the time we’ve taken off, it’s pretty much time to land again! So for Zak, it’s useful for him to have his dummy to stop his ears hurting. We always offer him milk for take-off and landing, but sometimes he’s just not interested or hungry enough.
Now, at 13 months old, Zak hardly ever uses his dummy. We allow him to have it for bed and when we’re in the car. That’s about it. These days, if we say to him, “Can I have your dodo please?” he will take it out and give it to us with no protest at all.
I feel very positive that when the time is right, it will be easy for Zak to stop using his dummy. That time hasn’t come yet and we’ll do it when it’s right for us, but for now, Zak’s “dodo” is our friend.