The debate has received a new injection of enthusiasm following a piece of research from Newcastle university: ‘Does the duration and frequency of dummy (pacifier) use affect the development of speech’? (Strutt, C, Khattab,G, and Willoughby, J (2021).
This research has both added some interesting points to the current knowledge store and reinforced some things already known – they are summarised below:
Working in an inner-city clinic in the 1990s, overshadowed by towering blocks of flats, I remember an experienced and much-loved health visitor weighing into the dummy debate with young mums and crying babies.
Here is what she said: - "I’d sooner they used a dummy than chucked ‘em off the balcony"
No-one would argue with that!
However… using a dummy frequently and continuously during waking hours impact upon speech and language development and can quickly become a habit which is be hard to break.
The more we understand about the effect of dummies (and the use of bottles) beyond the recommended age, the more we can support parents to help their child ‘kick the habit’
Perhaps one of the most important things to take away from this new research is that professionals should offer a balanced view and advice will differ at different points in a child’s life.