Guest blog post by early years development coach/speech & language therapist Joanne Jones
Why Ditch the Dummy?
Dummies have their place. They are useful to soothe newborn babies, reduce pain, stabalise
heart rates and organise movements. There is some evidence to suggest they reduce the risk of SIDS in the first months of life.
During the first year babies muscle movement explode in their strength and complexity. They
gradually become more precise and controlled. This is true of mouth muscle movements. Think of a baby developing and beginning to eat and chew solid food, their tongue gets stronger and has more movement and babbling starts around this age.
A dummy reinforces the muscles that keep the tongue low and flat in the mouth and stop the
muscles needed to lift the tongue.
For some children this causes problems with chewing, swallowing and talking. After the age of 1 the negatives associated with dummy use e.g. muscle development, teeth, ear infections and
delayed language skills outweigh any benefits for the baby.
As a speech and language therapist of 20 years I have worked in clinics across the north west of
England and would often see children whose talking wasn’t developing as it should and I could
immediately tell that so many of them were dummy users. My advice was always the same. The
first thing to do is Ditch the Dummy. I often said ‘I know it is easy for me to sit there and say this and not as easy for you’
After 20 years working for the NHS I decided to go my own way and support parents online with their little ones who were struggling to talk. Very quickly it became evident that so many of these children were using dummies.
I decided to set up a challenge, using Facebook, to support these parents in a way I couldn’t in
my clinic room.
Over the 5 days I support parents to ditch the dummy once and for all by sharing information,
tips, ideas and a load of support and some virtual hugs!
As a mum of four I know only too well how much information is out there, how much ‘mummy
guilt’ there is. My style is to empower parents as I appreciate every child and family is different
and I am not here to preach. I provide the information, strategies and support for parents to tap into when they are ready.
I launched the 5 day challenge in April and another in July and the results have been amazing.
The parents have found the challenge supportive and informative and over 80% have been able to Ditch the Dummy during the challenge.
Recently a regional paper wrote about the challenge and following that the BBC made a film
about it, that was shown on The One Show.
If you would like to Ditch the Dummy, find me on facebook
Find more information about dummy/digit sucking and the Growing Smiles Dummy Tree here.