100 parents, 100 opinions, 1 question; ‘When Should A Child Give Up Their Dummy?’

The internet is full of opinions when it comes to parenting and a lot of parents feel judged if they don’t follow what everyone else appears to be doing. One topic that divides, and unites, parents in equal measure, is that of dummy usage and, more importantly, when children should give up their dummy.

Author, Mark White, recently released his first book, Dumbleby Forest, after his daughters struggled to give up their dummies. He decided to harness the power of traditional storytelling by creating a magical world where dummies, that children no longer need, become forest imps called Giggalots who encourage other children to add to their forest family. The illustrated book is the perfect bedtime read for young children and Mark hopes it will help more families say goodbye to their child’s dummy forever.

“I was shocked to see the attachment that both of my daughters had to their dummy, although I was aware of the constant wanting for a dummy. While my wife and I allowed them to have it, it took me by surprise the trauma that followed when the decision was made to take it away.”

“I created a story time where I described where the dummy would go and why it needed to go there. It’s not my intention for the book, and magical land, to be the solution but more something to aid and comfort the child in the process of letting go of their own dummy.”

 Whilst some parents don’t use dummies at all for various reasons, including their child not taking to one, other parents do. We asked 100 parents for their opinion on dummy usage, including how many dummies they own, what age they feel children should stop using dummies and why they made the decision to use one in the first place. The results were mixed – some being personal opinion and others making their decision based on healthcare advice.

When it comes to dummy usage, it is clear that many parents will set out with the intention of trying not to use them. However, over time, and in a bid to soothe their child, an overwhelming number of parents have relented and introduced a dummy to help their child rest, and get some rest themselves.

34% of parents who took part in the survey said that their child used a dummy for falling asleep, whilst 38% of parents preferred to use a soft toy or teddy instead. Some only use a dummy if their child is ill or when they have immunisation injections, as a means of distracting them and providing comfort.

Most parents responding to the survey said that it was a personal choice whether to use a dummy or not, however there were a number of parents who felt judged for using a dummy and revealed that social pressures made them feel uncomfortable about it. 44% of parents even admitted to removing their child’s dummy before a photograph was taken for fear of receiving backlash on social platforms or from family members.

There are other known benefits of using a dummy. The Lullaby Trust has conducted their own research which suggests that ‘using a dummy when putting a baby down to sleep could reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), but it is advised to wait until after breastfeeding is established.’ Indeed, some health visitors recommend dummy usage to parents, especially those with larger babies, as it can help to prevent them from overfeeding or from having reflux issues. It also buys mums a bit of time in between feeds to have some respite when needed.

When it comes to weaning baby off their dummy, only 18% of parents surveyed said that children should be weaned off their dummy by the time they are 18-months old. 11% of parents, however, felt that it was important to allow their child to decide when it is time for them to give up their dummy. This would suggest that parents don’t believe there is a clear timeframe for introducing the idea of ditching the dummy.

Generally, health practitioners will recommend gently withdrawing a child’s dummy between the ages of 6 and 12 months. This is to avoid potential speech delays or misalignment of teeth. From the survey, it highlighted that whilst a number of parents were aware of this recommendation, others weren’t, proving there is still some discussion needed around the topic. Many parents do feel that weaning a child off a dummy is far easier than weaning them off sucking their thumb, because the dummy can be removed.

Mark’s book is a colourful and engaging way for parents to gradually introduce the idea of giving up a dummy with their child. Extending the amount of dummy-free time every day will also enable a child to come to terms with the idea.

“Dumbleby Forest takes your child on a wondrous and magical journey with Dumbleby Jack, who will assure your child that their cherished dummy is going to be kept safe forever with King and Queen Dumbleby and the Giggalots.”

“I hope that it reassures children and that parents can enter into the spirit of things by bringing the forest, and its inhabitants, to life, even after they have closed the book. Nurturing a child’s imagination is key to beginning their dummy-free life and stories are an incredibly powerful way of doing this.”

Dumbleby Forest is available to buy via the website for only £5.49.