Motherhood // The Dummy Quandary

the dummy quandaryWhen I found out I was pregnant with Busby back in 2012, I had a very long list of things I thought I would never do as a parent. A large number of items on said list went out of the window as soon as she entered the world, but there was one thing I was absolutely resolute about not giving into – and that was giving her a dummy. As it transpired, she never needed one anyway, and she was never a thumbsucker either; Flopsy Bunny is where she gets her comfort.

But then H-Bear arrived.

Regular readers will know that H-Bear is not the biggest fan of sleep (understatement), and my copious posts about chronic sleep deprivation are a not-so subtle nod to what our lives have been like for the past (almost) 11 months. We have tried so many different ways to get him to sleep… and to get him to remain asleep, but due to factors such as his silent reflux and his various allergies, not to mention the expected sleep-barriers such as teething, nothing has had much effect.

A couple of people mentioned trying him with a dummy, but my determined, stubborn self batted away their suggestions with contempt.

However, 10 months in with only one full night of sleep under the proverbial belt and I was feeling desperate.

So I began to question my dummy dislike. I mean, why did I hate them so much?

I think it boils down to the fact that they look fairly hideous. I have memories of important figures in my life berating the dummy when I was younger: “Oh doesn’t it look disgusting?!” etc. So I grew up thinking that they were indeed an unnecessary evil in the land of parenthood, and that they were associated with being a ‘not very good parent’ (as one sees it in simple terms before you actually become a parent, and then you realise that we’re all winging it!). I didn’t want to be a ‘not very good parent’, so therefore dummies weren’t coming anywhere near my children.

End of debate.

But then I was walking around the supermarket one hazy, sleep-deprived Thursday, close to tears after another awful night, when I said “Screw it! I’ll give anything a go!” and headed to the baby aisle. The shopping experience was one akin to buying condoms for the first time; I didn’t have a clue where to begin as there were so many different types, and I felt slightly judged and a little sullied making my purchase. Which is ludicrous because I went through the self-service checkout.

H-Bear looked perplexed when I offered him a dummy for the first time, but a big smile crossed his face when he began sucking, and I knew I’d made the right decision. I still wasn’t happy with this big piece of plastic taking up his face, but when he gave us two nights of sleep in a row I was more than ready to swallow my pride on the matter.

I’ve since been researching why the dummy might be helping H-Bear, and have discovered that the production of saliva lowers the pH in the stomach, and the constant sucking assists in preventing babies refluxing and being woken up, so it’s actually helping him.

I still struggle a little with the presence of the dummy, and tried to remove it for most photos when we were in Italy as it’s not something I want featuring in the family photo album, but I now accept that it’s doing a world of good, and using one doesn’t make me a bad parent in the slightest. In fact, in a way, it’s made me a better one.


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  1. 16th May 2016 / 7:33 am

    I said I’d never give Luca a dummy too for very similar reasons! Then I actually had him and everything changed. We got rid of his fairly early though and it was a life changer for us. Parenting is a funny old thing isn’t it? I don’t think anyone will judge you for doing what is best for you as a mummy and H-Bear. You both need sleep and if it’s the dummy that helps you get that then so be it! Xx

  2. 16th May 2016 / 8:47 am

    L had a dummy from two weeks as she was such a sucky baby, it was my nipple or the dummy! I would go get over her crib and pull the dummy out as soon as she nodded off for the first few weeks. And then stopped that and made our own dummy rules, only for sleep time, only in the cot, pushchair at naps times and that as soon as we passed one we would work on giving it up. And it massively helped L and me. As you said, we are all winging it. Glad it seems to be helping.

  3. 18th May 2016 / 9:38 pm

    I was of the same stance as you before becoming a parent, so determined not to use one. Then came the constant crying, sleepless nights etc with J and also after pressure from my inlaws, I gave in and gave him one. He only had it for a few weeks though as he started spitting it out, so we never used it after that. We have never bothered with N but now I am of the stance that it does no harm, and it’s worth a try if it will help to settle x

  4. 19th May 2016 / 6:58 am

    Ah well done H on sleeping a lot better. I swore I would never give a dummy but caved after about two weeks and it was the best thing i did. I take it out constantly in photos and when he’s awake but he does need it for settling to sleep these days and he does long stretches with it so it’s staying for now 🙂

  5. 23rd May 2016 / 9:57 pm

    It seems like it’s very common to say you’ll never use a dummy – I was totally the same. But then I read that it could help with reflux so I gave Toby one when he was about month old. He only had it until he was about 3 months when he rejected it in favour of his thumb. I didn’t worry so much about giving Gabe a dummy and it really does help. I’m trying to keep it just for sleeping and in the car, and I’m always taking it out for photos but to be honest if it helps then why should I be trying to stop him having it? I love your description of buying them too! I do hate how they look – we managed to get clear ones up to six months but now he has the bigger ones they all seem so garish!

  6. 24th May 2016 / 11:36 pm

    My little boys never liked the dummy – one still soothes with his thumb and Charley Bear (AKA Bear) and he also has huge tonsils and adenoids – wondered if that is why he still shoves his hand in his mouth so often to soothe – helps his breathing. His twin never bothered
    but is more emotional – but still it is nice to have two different boys with distinct personalities.

    They are everything to my wife and I. We struggled for eight years and when we finally had them we knew we would make their lives special.

    ps – although my website link is here it is not a working business yet so please do not think I am a spammer – just a start up in progress.

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