All posts by Baby Knowledge

How to wean baby off a dummy and when?

Weaning your little one off a dummy should be done sooner rather than later. Here is all you need to know on the when, why and how to do it without too many (if any) tears.

What is the best age to start weaning off a dummy?

It is recommended you begin the weaning process at around 6-8 months; you should start to limit it’s use to only sleep time with a view of completely stopping by around 12 months.

Why is it important to stop my child using it?

There is evidence to suggest that overuse of a dummy for a prolonged period can cause problems with speech development. It will also reduce dribbling and sore chins, potentially reduce the risk of ear infections, help your child to develop grown up eating patterns and encourage talking/babbling.

5 Sensible tips for successful dummy weaning

  • Start off gradually – firstly reduce dummy use to sleep time only, then to night time only.
  • Explain to your child (no matter what age) that the dummy has gone or the dummies are broken.
  • At times when you would have given a dummy, try something else such as a cuddle or a favourite toy.
  • If your child understands, try giving the dummy to someone special such as Father Christmas or the dummy fairies. Sometimes they leave special notes and presents to say thank-you.
  • Don’t have an emergency back up. At some point, your child will cry for his dummy, if you have an emergency dummy you will always be tempted to use it. Once you have made the decision. Stick to it.
  • Praise her and tell everyone what a big girl she is (so she can hear how proud you are).
  • Never cut or damage the dummy and give it back to your child – this is a potential choking hazard.
  • Resources:
    NHS Wolverhampton

    The pros and cons of introducing a dummy

    Should I introduce a dummy? What are the pros and cons? The dummy debate will continue for as long as there are both babies and dummies (and that isn’t going to stop anyone soon). This info will help you to make an informed decision on whether or not to introduce one.

    The pros

  • Giving your baby a dummy when she sleeps may reduce the risk of SIDS. You should put it in her mouth when you put her to sleep but there is no need to give it back to her should it fall out.
  • It also allows your baby to comfort and soothe herself.
  • It satisfies the sucking reflex. Some babies like to suck more than just when feeding and a dummy allows them to do this.
  • When the time comes that you don’t want your baby to have it anymore, it is easier to wean off a dummy than it is off sucking a thumb.
  • The cons

  • If you introduce a dummy before breastfeeding has been established, it may cause nipple confusion. This could result in your newborn being unable to breastfeed. It is best to wait until your baby is at least one month old.
  • Recent research suggests there may be a link between dummy use and ear infections. It is thought this is due to a change of pressure between the middle ear and upper throat. Bear in mind, there is not enough evidence to confirm if this link is accurate (it may be that mothers in the test group had babies who were already more prone to ear infections and gave a dummy to soothe them).
  • Overuse of a dummy can delay speech, it is recommended you limit the amount of time your child has it, using it for sleep time only is a good way of preventing this.
  • It may cause problems with teeth development if your child regularly uses it for prolonged periods.
  • You may offer a dummy when your little one really wants to be fed, it is an easy mistake and one you will have to be aware of.
  • Dummy safety

  • Always sterilise the dummy before use if your child is under 6 months. After this you can wash with warm soapy water.
  • Never clean a dummy by sucking it – you have lots of bacteria in your mouth that you will transfer.
  • Replace it regularly to ensure there are no cracks, this is where germs/bacteria can survive.
  • Never dip it in anything, particularly not sweet things like honey or juices.
  • Choose an orthodontic dummy with a large shield and air holes, look for the British Dental Association logo.
  • Avoid using a cord attached to the dummy as there is a strangulation risk.
  • Resources:
    WebMd, Product safety

    What can my baby see?

    Your babies vision improves drastically within the first 8 months of life. If you have ever wondered what and how far your little one can see and when you can expect improvements, then you should look no further:

    What do newborns see?

    Typically, you will be told your newborn can focus 10-12 inches away, just enough to see Mummy’s face whilst she feeds. Whilst this isn’t wholly inaccurate – it isn’t completely accurate either. When your little one is born, she is capable of fully focusing on any object that is both near or far, however, there are special muscles in our eyes called ciliary muscles which automatically contract or relax to enable your eye to focus properly on any given object; whilst these muscles are developing your newborn is unable to consistently focus with accuracy. By about 2 months of age, these muscles should have developed well enough to improve focus but your little ones brain and retina still need to develop to enable clear, accurate vision; the retina has over 100 million cells in each eye and the part of of the eye responsible for clear vision (called the fovea) takes longer than the lens to mature and work properly. So, even though at 2 months old your baby’s eyes can focus properly, the image projected onto the retina that then falls onto the fovea is still quite blurry. It is said that this blurriness caused by nervous system immaturity’s results in baby’s vision being six times worse than an adults. (If an adult has 20/20 vision, a newborn has 20/120 – if she could read, she could manage the top letter of an eye test). – This obviously means your baby has a rich visual world and more importantly can see your eyes, lips, hair, her own hands, fingers, feet and toes. This is probably why parents are told your baby can focus 10-12 inches away.

    Are black and white toys best?

    Babies are naturally attracted to high contrasting colours and you can’t get much higher than 100% contrast (black and white). The fact is baby’s colour vision is much better than most people seem to think; in the first month of life, newborns can distinguish between two shades of grey that differ by only 5% (5% contrast). By 2 months they can distinguish between two shades of grey with a 0.5% contrast. Your baby will enjoy and be attracted to black and white toys/mats etc but in terms of helping your child’s visual development, they make no difference at all. In fact, giving your child a break from high contrast colours and patterns may be a good idea once in a while to allow her to explore other, more interesting things such as your face and her hands etc.

    When can they see colours?

    Babies colour vision isn’t as rich or as sensitive to colours as an adults as the fovea (again) still needs to develop. It is unlikely that babies will be able to distinguish between similar colour differences such as pastel colours or red and reddish orange for example. It is thought that children as young as 2 weeks old have colour vision that can distinguish between 2 different colours.

    When will my baby recognise my face?

    Being able to see your face and recognising your face are obviously 2 very different things. A tend to look at and pay attention tontine borders of objects such as your hair. At around 2 months of age, this changes and your baby will begin to focus more on your internal features such as your lips, eyes and nose. Around 4 or 5 months, your little one will be able to recognise and distinguish you from every other person in the world.


    Create a safe sleeping environment to avoid SIDS

    The risk of SIDS is at its highest between the age of 0-6 months. Here is how you can create a safe sleeping environment to help mitigate against this risk.

    5 steps to sleep safety

  • Always place your baby to sleep on her back – This should be done from day one for both daytime naps and night time sleeps. Putting your little one on her back to sleep will not increase her risk of choking should she vomit. When your child is old enough to roll over, you shouldn’t prevent this. The back to sleep campaign began in 1994 and has seen an incredible reduction in SIDS cases. This is now called the safe to sleep campaign as there are more things we can do:
  • Share rooms for at least the first 6 months – Your baby should always sleep in her own age/size appropriate bed and never in your bed, on a chair or on the sofa. If you opt to co-sleep you must make this as safe as possible too. Is it safe to co-sleep with a newborn?
  • Use a new, firm, correctly fitted mattress – Your baby should have a new mattress that is suited for the exact size of her bed/cot/Moses basket. The general guidance for cots is there should be no more than a 4cm gap between the cot and mattress. You should never use a second hand mattress and when buying, always check it conforms to safety requirements: mattresses should carry the BSI number BS 1877-10:1997. If you are unsure which sized mattress to buy, measure the sleeping area of the bed and take these measurements with you to a reputable shop.
  • Keep soft objects out of your baby’s sleep area – This allows the air to flow around your baby preventing overheating and also ensures there are no suffocation risks. Teddies, pillows, cot bumpers and additional blankets/bedding all fall into this category so keep them out!
  • Don’t let your baby overheat – You should always check the temperature of your baby’s sleep area before dressing her for the night and also re-check her body temperature throughout the night where appropriate. Click here for more information on tog rating and room temperatures.
  • Resources:
    NHS, nichd, Which

    Why do I worry so much about my sleeping newborn?

    Every new parent worries about their newborn, even more so when she is asleep. Hopefully this post will help to alleviate your fears whilst maintaining the safety and health of your child.

    I worry my baby will stop breathing

    Newborns do not have regular breathing patterns so there may be occasions where you little one has what seems like a huge gap between breaths. In reality this is likely to be only a few more seconds gap than usual. Look out for the colour of your baby’s skin. If it is blue she may be having breathing difficulties and if she is red she may be overheating.

    I worry about SIDS

    Every parent worries about SIDS. The practice of creating a safe sleeping environment has been so successfully highlighted over the years we can’t help but worry. Follow the guidelines on both creating a safe sleep environment and the tog rating and temperature guide. Your baby should sleep in the same room as you for at least the first 6 months, this will also help to reassure you.

    I wouldn’t know what to do…

    A huge fear for all parents is that we find our children needing urgent medical help and we don’t know what to do. Be it choking, not breathing, convulsing or even bangs to their head or burns and cuts, we all know getting first aid trained is the right thing to do, the confidence it gives you when dealing with the above is immeasurable but more importantly, it could save your baby’s life. You can find out more about baby first aid from the British Red Cross