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Perilous pacifiers
by Asa Butcher
2007-06-22 10:28:23
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One of my pet hates before even becoming a parent was dummies, also known as pacifiers and soothers, thoughtlessly stuffed into the mouths of babies and toddlers. I have always believed that they are completely pointless, damage a child's natural growth and are a breeding ground for germs. Earlier this week my feelings were confirmed by my two-year-old daughter's first visit to the dentist and some startling facts expressed by the kind dentist.

Firstly, my daughter has never had a dummy, neither did I or my wife, so we were already biased towards the product, but when the dentist explained that maternity units and doctors in Finland are now forbidden to recommend or even supply dummies I almost gave a whoop of joy. I couldn't believe that Finland had finally caught up with the times and banned the promotion of this horrific device, plus the dentist said that the country was lagging behind other European countries in the practice.

While we waited for my daughter to relax in this new environment the dentist produced some leaflets that showed the damage a dummy can cause to the jaw and teeth over time. The first diagram depicted an overbite, the second was crooked teeth and the third showed an underbite usually found on apes, all of which are caused by loving parents sticking a plastic dummy in their child's mouth.

The next question the dentist asked was whether our daughter had suffered from any ear infections to which we answered no. She went on to explain again that sucking upon a dummy moves the flow of bacteria from the back of the throat up into the sinuses, so a child is likely to suffer from all manners of ear infections and colds from an early age all because of the use of a dummy. I may be repeating the cause of these problems is a dummy but when faced with parents that use them you must repeat the dangers more than once.

As my wife and I sat smugly in our chairs, the dentist moved onto danger number three and this one is quite nasty. In order to emphasise this danger she told us a story that had actually taken place in her own surgery a few weeks earlier when a toddler was running around with a dummy in its mouth and crashed into a wall. The hard plastic dummy took the brunt of the collision and the result was the child losing four front teeth and other extensive damage, so they will now have to wear corrective braces from the age of three. Yes, it was because of the dummy.

There is more. It has been a common belief that teeth problems are hereditary but recent research has dispelled this myth. Teeth problems begin when bacteria enters the child's mouth from an adult, such as kissing a baby on the mouth, sharing a spoon, leaving saliva on a toy instrument and – wait for it – cleaning your child's dummy in your mouth after it has dropped on the floor… too disgusting! How many of you have seen, or even performed that exercise, but once the dummy has hit the floor it has collected bacteria that do not belong in anybody's mouth, let alone a baby or toddler's.

On a personal note, I have heard parents complain that their child wakes up crying because the dummy had fallen out and that the child has been slow to develop its communicative skills, but what can you say except, "Lose the dummy! It really isn't natural, it is dangerous, it is disgusting and it is pointless." Babies cry, so don't stunt their growth – both mentally and physically – with a piece of moulded plastic that will cause more damage than good.

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Paparella2007-06-21 11:36:55
Indeed, a dummy is a dumb way to pacify a toddler. There are other ways, albeit it takes some imagination to envision them.

The problem is not the crying child but the lazy unimaginative parent who may have rationalized that for anything physical or psychical that ails him/her there is an appropriate fix-all pill to pop in one's mouth. Indeed, the fruit never falls too far from the tree.

Tia2007-06-21 12:21:26
I am very pro breastfeeding and have learned that all the sucking that a baby does is meant for the breast. So dummies can also interfere with milk production, like bottles.

I have heard though that dummy is less damaging for teeth than thumb, I wonder if that is true. But I believe if the breast is available enough the thumb will not become a problem either -from my experience with my child.

What I also can not understand is the sight of dummies put in children´s mouths even before they are upset, just to prevent it from happening. To me it is mostly about parents wanting their children to be as quiet as possible and to disturb them as little as possible.

Seems like that is how it is with children in general these days, they are not supposed to disturb parents trying to live their lives just like they were before the child. They got it the wrong way round, sorry.

Jack2007-06-22 22:33:45
My children and now grandchildren have had only thier thumb or mother's breast to suck on. I was a single father and I noticed my 6 week old boy would root near my chest (sorry, son...although, amazingingly, a male's nipple can express milk and pass on natural resistances to the child..who would have believed it!). When my and now our (have remarried with additional children)children cryed, we usually just picked them up. I have been taught that it is impossible to spoil a young child or infant by holding them too much [exception being not against their will as some are touch avoidant].

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