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How to choose a dummy for your baby

How to choose a dummy for baby

It’s hard enough deciding whether or not you should offer your baby a dummy. Once you’ve made the decision, you then need to pick out a dummy. Where to start? There are so many different ones on the market! Ultimately, your baby will make the decision for you. Many babies have a definite preference when it comes to the dummy. There are two main decisions to start: orthodontic or cherry teat, and latex or silicone?

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Shape of the teat

Dummy teats come in two shapes – round cherry shape, and orthodontic. The orthodontic shapes have a rounded top and a flat bottom, so that the top of baby’s tongue rests flat against the bottom of the teat. Lactation consultants recommend a round cherry teat, especially for younger babies. This is because it’s the same shape as a mother’s nipple, and doesn’t cause nipple confusion with breastfed babies. If you use an orthodontic nipple, it causes a very young baby to suck differently on the mother’s nipple and can hurt her and cause cracking and sore nipples. This can lead to problems with breastfeeding. Orthodontists, however, recommend an orthodontic shaped teat as it’s less likely to cause problems with teeth later on. So what’s the answer? Apparently, it’s to start with a round teat, and to switch to an orthodontic shaped teat around 6 months of age. Once your baby has a favourite type of dummy, however, this may be easier said than done. It seems that as long as baby is weaned off the dummy by around two years of age, there won’t be any adverse dental effects, no matter what shaped teat you use.

Latex or silicone

The next choice is between the materials the teats are made from. You have a choice between latex and silicone teats. Silicone teats are a man-made, soft yet strong material. It’s easy to clean, and doesn’t retain smells or flavours. The silicone used in baby dummies is usually medical grade silicone. While silicone doesn’t tear like latex under the pressure of sharp little baby teeth, those same teeth may be able to bite chunks out of a silicone teat. It’s important to examine the dummy before each use, and replace it as soon as you see any signs of wear. You should replace a dummy every six to eight weeks in any case.

Latex is a natural material, made from the sap of the Hevea Brasiliensis (rubber) tree. Latex is more flexible than silicone, and it feels softer in baby’s mouth. However, because it’s softer, they can sometimes wear out faster and once baby develops teeth they may be able to tear it more easily than silicone.

Latex can also have a strong taste at first. Boiling the dummy in milk before first use will take that strong taste away. Some rubber and latex products are manufactured using nitrosamines. There is some evidence that nitrosamines are carcinogenic, so look for latex teats that are nitrosamine free. They’re easy to find, and if you’re not sure, ask the manufacturer. Some babies can have allergies to latex. If there’s a history of latex allergies in the family, you’re probably better off choosing a silicone teat.

Dummy Size

Choose a dummy that is the right size for your baby’s age. It’s usually straightforward - teats get bigger for older babies as their mouths get bigger. Most dummies are available in two options – under six months and over six months.

Dummy style

Once you’ve work out which teat to choose, have a look at the rest of the dummy. The dummy shield should have holes in it. This helps to prevent skin rashes around baby’s mouth. More importantly, in the very unlikely event that the dummy should become lodged in baby’s mouth, the holes allow baby to breathe. The shield should be wide than 3.5cms so that your baby can’t put the whole thing in her mouth. All dummies that meet Australian standards will have these holes and the correct size shield. It’s also a good idea to look for a dummy that’s made from one piece of plastic, as it’s less likely to come apart and become a choking hazard. You can also get latex dummies that are moulded entirely from one piece, including the teat. Look for dummies that are BPA free and phthalate free, too.

Sterilising the dummy

For babies younger than six months, you’ll need to be able to sterilize the dummy. Check that the dummy you buy can be sterilized the way you prefer. Babies older than six months have better immunity, so washing in warm soapy water is enough.

Dummy clip

Although it’s a nuisance when your baby drops the dummy into the dirt, be aware that dummy chains can be dangerous. If you use one, make sure that it meets Australian standards. If it’s too long, it could catch around baby’s neck and become a choking hazard. You may find that you need to offer your baby a few different types of dummies before you find one that she likes. Once you find the perfect dummy, make sure to get extras. There’s nothing worse than a meltdown in the middle of the night when the dummy has disappeared!

Want to see what sort of dummies are available? Jump on over to Hello Charlie and check out our range of dummies and pacifiers.

Image: Hevea

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