using a dummy and cot death sids

Top tips for using a dummy

Some research suggests that it is possible that using a dummy during sleep periods could reduce the risk of sudden infant death.

If you choose to use a dummy:

  • Wait until breastfeeding is well established (usually around 4 weeks old) 
  • Use an orthodontic dummy – it adapts to your baby’s mouth shape 
  • Make sure it is part of your baby’s regular sleep routine 
  • Stop giving it for sleeps between 6 and 12 months 

And here are the things to avoid: 

  • Don’t force your baby to take a dummy or put it back in if your baby spits it out 
  • Don’t use a neck cord and dummy attachments 
  • Don’t put anything sweet on the dummy
  • Don’t offer the dummy during awake time 

Dummies and SIDS: FAQs

Why does using a dummy reduce the chance SIDS?

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We do not know exactly what it is about a dummy that may help reduce the chance of a baby dying of SIDS. As with most of the safer sleep information, we only know that there is good evidence to show:

  • what you can do to reduce the chance of SIDS
  • what increases the chance of SIDS
  • what should be avoided

Does my baby need to use a dummy every day?

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Regular dummy use is the best way to use a dummy. This means offering your baby a dummy for every sleep, day or night. You and your baby will also find it easier to have a regular sleep routine.

If the dummy falls out of your baby’s mouth during sleep, there is no need to put it back in.

Will a dummy make breastfeeding more difficult?

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If you choose to use a dummy, only introduce it once you have established breastfeeding. The time this takes differs for each person, but it could be a few weeks.

Make sure you get help if you need it. Once breastfeeding is established, introducing a dummy should not have a negative effect.

What if my paediatrician recommends a dummy, but I have not properly established breastfeeding with my baby?

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There are some situations in which babies are given dummies by medical professionals when breastfeeding has not been established.

Here are some examples:

  • As a general comforter for babies when they are receiving procedures or on ventilators
  • To help develop facial muscles in premature babies as they learn to suck
  • For babies receiving a certain kind of ventilation called CPAP (a dummy helps keep their mouths closed and maintains pressure in their airways)

We recommend that parents follow their health professional’s advice in these situations.

What if my baby won’t take a dummy?

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Not all babies like dummies. If your baby repeatedly refuses a dummy, do not force them to take it.

Following other safer sleep advice such as not smoking and placing your baby to sleep on their back will still significantly lower their chance of SIDS.