Dummies, the sucking reflex and feeling safe and secure

Babies and infants are comforted by closeness and by suckling. Some babies are contented after a feed, while others want to suckle almost non-stop. Children differ and have different needs.

Everyone is born with a sucking reflex. This is what ensures that tiny babies get enough to eat. Even in the womb at just 16 weeks, scans show babies sucking their thumbs. Many infants also learn to love a dummy (pacifier, soother) or their thumb. Further reading: Weaning off a dummy or thumb  Advice on dummies and thumb-sucking

Get breastfeeding off to a good start first
It's best to avoid a dummy for the first few weeks or at least until you've established a stable breastfeeding rhythm. Wait until baby has a good suckling technique, until you also feel confident breastfeeding, and until you have plenty of milk. 

Babies have a natural urge to suckle, and they adjust their mother's milk production to the amount they need. But bear in mind that a newborn may be completely pacified by a dummy. This can cause the intervals between feeds to be longer than is good for baby or your milk flow.

Both a dummy and supplementary feeds of other food may cause your baby to not root for your breast as often as she needs to get her fill and keep your milk production up. One tip is to offer baby the dummy only after a feed.

A dummy may be a good alternative
For a mother with sore nipples, one good option is to offer your baby a dummy at the end of a good feed, but when he or she may still be suckling or rooting. For a child with a strong suckling urge or who is comforted and soothed by a dummy, this may be a good solution.

Opinion differs on whether to offer a dummy or not, but you only need to think about what's best for you and your baby. However, it's best not to let your baby use a dummy constantly, as some babies get so 'hooked' on it they can't go without.

Dummy hygiene
Sterilise the dummy (pacifier, soother) before first use by boiling it for five minutes. Leave it to cool. Afterwards, rinse the dummy before each use, and boil it every once in a while. Do not use detergent. Replace the dummy after approx. two months' use.

Thrush can also be prevented by this kind of good hygiene routine. If your baby develops oral thrush, it doesn't usually cause discomfort for baby. The treatment mainly involves preventing the thrush from spreading to the mother.

Dummy safety
Dummies deteriorate over time and from use, and can pose a choking risk for the child. This is why it's important to check the dummy every day. Take care to follow the manufacturer's recommendations on how often the dummy should be replaced.

Tug gently on the teat before giving your child the dummy each time. There must be no holes, tears or bite marks on the teat. If it does, the entire teat or parts of it may detach from the mouth shield and pose a choking hazard.

Change dummy size as your child grows. The mouth shield must not be so small that it fits all the way into the child's mouth.

Dummies deteriorate with age even if they are not used. They may become brittle and crack, especially if exposed to sunlight or high temperatures. Keep dummies away from direct sunlight, e.g. on a window sill.

Dummy checklist
• The dummy (pacifier, soother) must comply with the EN 1400 safety standard
• Follow the manufacturer's instructions and recommendations closely
• Select a dummy suitable for the age of your child
• Tug gently on the teat before each use
• Don't let baby chew or bite on the dummy
• Dispose of the dummy at the least sign of damage
• Bear in mind that a dummy deteriorates with age even if not used
• If you use a dummy holder/clip, it must be EN-12586 certified.
• Non-compliant dummy holders/clips may pose a strangulation risk if they are too long, or a choking hazard if the decoration or clip is of poor quality and detaches.

Source: Swedish Consumer Agency
An error occured, please try again later.