How To Choose a Dummy for a Baby or Toddler
One of the confusing parts of new parenthood that I found, was trying to navigate the rather complex world of different dummy shapes! Questions such as whether or not we would use one at all, and if so how to choose a dummy, what the different teat shapes are, and the differences in materials such as natural rubber dummies or silicone baby dummies. If you find yourself in the same boat, hopefully this article will help make things a little clearer for you, and help you to make an informed decision.
1. Baby Dummy Raw Materials
A baby dummy, soother or pacifier, is made up of three parts. The teat, shield and handle. Baby dummies can be made from various materials including natural rubber, silicone or other soft plastics. The materials themselves have limited differences in the way in which they work to soothe baby, however, they are important in terms of both safety for baby and their environmental impact.
A dummy which uses natural materials is a benefit due to fact that the teat and guard are both in contact with baby's mouth. Therefore, the avoidance of any chemicals or micro plastics should be a serious consideration when choosing a dummy for your baby.
Similarly, the length of time in which a natural rubber soother breaks down is significantly less than a conventional plastic dummy. This means a natural rubber dummy can easily be recycled at home once it has reached the end of its lifespan.
Be sure that any dummy you do choose is BPA free, and if there is a history of latex allergies in your family to avoid natural rubber dummies.
This image shows a brand new HEVEA natural rubber pacifier and one which has been in soil for 6 years which is biodegrading, versus a competing plastic pacifier which will be in landfill for many years to come!
2. Baby Dummy Teat Shapes
The shape of the teat is an important consideration when choosing your baby's dummy, and unfortunately it does take some trial and error in figuring out what your child will take to. Ultimately the choice is yours, there is no right or wrong. It's also worth noting that you can choose different dummy shapes along your babies journey, just because you have chosen one shape for your newborn for example, doesn't mean a different teat shape can't also be used later on.
An orthodontic pacifier is designed to prevent tooth misalignment and orthodontic issues later in life, as baby teeth come in and eventually give way to adult teeth. The orthodontic pacifier has a flattened bottom and rounded top, so that the top of baby's tongue rests flat against the bottom of the teat. It is often referred to as an anatomical pacifier.
Round or Cherry Shaped Teat
The round dummy teat shape is also known as a cherry shaped teat. It is similar to the shape of most baby feeding bottle teats, and is the same shape as the teats on our HEVEA glass baby feeding bottles. If your baby is used to drinking from a bottle, there is a fairly big chance they will take to a dummy with a round teat. If the brand of dummy your child prefers does not offer a smaller symmetrical teat which is more in line with the shape of a natural nipple, then this is the shape teat that is recommended for newborn breastfed or combination fed babies.
Symmetrical Shaped Teat
The nipple is similar to the shape of the female breast and is therefore a recommended dummy for breastfed babies. The symmetrical teat shape is also smaller than the rounded teat, so if your baby has found the orthodontic or round teat shape too overwhelming, it could be an idea to give a symmetrical teat a try.
3. How is your baby fed?
Bottle Fed Baby
If your little one is bottle fed either full time or part-time, a round dummy or symmetrical dummy shape, will be more familiar to them than an orthodontic shaped teat. Therefore, it would be a good idea to use one of these two types of dummy, to about 6 months old and then move them over to an orthodontic teat if desired.
There is often worry regarding 'nipple confusion' when it comes to dummies for breastfed babies. The general consensus is that a dummy should be delayed until at least 4 weeks so that your baby can establish breastfeeding and a good latch before the introduction of a dummy (or expressed milk from baby bottles). With that said, every baby is different, and there is no guarantee they will accept a dummy at all at any age, and may or may not suffer from nipple confusion whenever a dummy is introduced.
On a personal level, we introduced a baby bottle with natural rubber teats and a dummy at around 4 weeks old. Our son experienced no reduction in his ability to feed, and was fed with a combination of expressed milk from a glass bottle, combined with breastfeeding until 2 years old. He began to reject his dummy at around 9-months old, refusing it for bedtimes and at this point, we made the decision to remove it entirely (with surprisingly little protestation!).
A symmetrical or round teat shape would be best for a breastfed baby as these dummy shapes are most similar to that of a natural nipple.
4. What Are The Different Baby Dummy Sizes
Baby dummies come in different shapes and sizes, and the age range varies with different brands. Choose the size which corresponds to your child's age, as teat sizes get slightly bigger for older babies as they grow. If the dummy size is incorrect, you may find that your baby is not soothed. It is best to change the size or style of the dummy during the day so you can observe how your little one takes to the change.
5. How To Clean A Baby Dummy
Regularly cleaning and sterilising your baby's dummy is really important to stave off viruses and bacteria. It is particularly important for younger babies as their immune systems are immature and still developing.
Before a new pacifier is used, it should be thoroughly cleaned then sterilised by either immersing the soother in a sterilising solution (used for baby bottles, breast pump parts etc) or by boiling the dummy in water for 5 min. Then let it cool down, and with clean hands empty out any water from inside the dummy teat by pressing it gently before use.
Choosing a baby dummy that is made from a one-piece design such as the HEVEA natural rubber pacifier, means there are no joints or cracks where dirt and bacteria can accumulate. Regular soothers usually have a crevice where the teat and shield come together, which can be difficult to keep clean.
Always make sure baby's dummy is clean before use and check that the teat is undamaged.
6. How Often Should A Dummy Be Replaced
It's important to discard of a dummy at the first signs of damage or weakness. This is vital to ensure the safety of your baby. If when you pull the teat there are any splits or changes it should be discarded. Consensus is that dummies should be replaced every 2 to 3 months or so. Due to the regular need for replacement of a baby's dummy, choosing an eco-friendly option such as natural rubber that will biodegrade is a more sustainable choice.
7. Do I Need A Baby Dummy Clip
As you know we don't like to push list of 'needs' on anyone, as each individuals' situation is different. However, we will say that a dummy clip is a convenient way of keeping baby's dummy in place and off the floor. Attached to clothing or a bib, a dummy clip ensures that baby's dummy is at hand when required.
It is again important to consider safety aspects when it comes to a dummy holder. The length of a dummy clip is important. You should ensure that it is not too long, as this can become a choking hazard.
As a dummy clip will also be in contact with baby's mouth at some point, it is important to consider the material used. Organic cotton dummy clips are a great option as no toxic chemicals are used in the production of organic cotton, and it's also an environmentally friendly material. Similarly, medical grade silicone pacifier clips are also a more sustainable alternative. In any case, ensure that the pacifier clip has passed safety standards and is cleaned regularly.
Hopefully you feel more equipped to purchase a dummy for your little one having read through this blog post. While you're here, why not take a look at our range of HEVEA natural rubber pacifiers.
The HEVEA natural rubber dummies are moulded entirely from one piece of rubber including the teat. This means they are less likely to break into pieces, causing a hazard for baby and are much more hygienic than dummies with multiple parts. They are also designed with ventilation holes on the shield which is important to prevent skin irritation around baby's mouth.
Suitable from birth, available in a variety of different colours and in multiple teat shapes, they are a stylish eco-friendly option for your baby!