These ubiquitous little items go by a few different names – dummies, pacifiers, or soothers among them – and whether you choose to use them or not is a decision only you can make. But if you do decide they’re the thing for you, there's a range of things that are worth thinking about when it comes to choosing the perfect dummy for your baby.
It's important to remember that dummies have a limited life due to the way they are used, and who they are used by – a lot of babies love to chew on them, so it’s important to make sure they are both clean and structurally sound while they’re being used. Most dummies will need to be replaced every 1-2 months, and perhaps most importantly, should be given the "pull test" before each use. What is the pull test, you ask? It's a very quick and easy test you can give pretty much any product (though especially things like dummies and bottle teats) to check their integrity, especially since they spend so much time being chewed or sucked on. To do this, hold the dummy in one hand, and with the other gently pull on the teat in all directions, checking for any signs of damage, tearing or wear. If you see any of this, discard the dummy and switch to a new one.
Dummies come in various sizes and shapes, and it's important to find the right one for your baby. A dummy that is too big will be hard for your child to use; conversely, one that is too small can risk becoming a choking hazard. Dummies usually have a recommended age when you buy them – in the case of Haakaa soothers, they’ll be marked either 0-3 months or three months+. Which of these will suit your baby will come down to a variety of factors, not just their age, so use your judgement. If the dummy is looking a little small, it might be time to move up a step. If it’s too big for your baby to use comfortably (e.g., they can’t fit it in their mouth properly), you might need to go back to a smaller size.
There are a couple of things to look out for when buying a dummy. The shield should be at least 3.5cm wide so your baby can't fit the whole thing in their mouth. It should also have at least two ventilation holes in the shield to help allow airflow and a sturdy, easy-grip ring so that you can quickly remove the dummy if necessary. Finally, if possible, getting a dummy that's just one piece is best – multi-part dummies can carry the risk of pulling apart. Fortunately, Haakaa dummies meet every single one of these points!
The other thing to think about with dummies is the teat shape – and this is likely an area where your baby will have far more input than you will. Just like every other child (or adult, for that matter), babies can have some very firm likes and dislikes, and this includes the dummies they try out. One child liking a specific teat shape is no guarantee that the next will be at all interested, even if they’re siblings. Soothers come in two main teat shapes: the traditional 'teat' or 'nipple' shape, and the orthodontic teat, which has a flat bottom and rounded top (sometimes referred to as 'thumb-shaped'). The orthodontic teats tend to be preferred by babies who are exclusively breastfed, but again, it really does come down to each little one’s personal preference; some babies prefer the bottle teat shape even though they are breastfed babies. To find the right dummy for your child can be a case of trial and error; you may need to try different options until you find one they like.
The first modern dummy was patented in 1901 and was made of natural rubber. Rubber is still sometimes used, but more commonly these days, you'll find teats made of latex or silicone, while the shields and rings made of either silicone or plastic. Latex is soft but has the disadvantage of being something some babies may develop an allergy to. We now have a growing awareness of the problems associated with plastics – they're only rarely recycled, and break down into microplastics that are now found at every stage of the food chain. Some plastics even leach some pretty nasty toxins, so ideally, we want to stay away from them entirely when it comes to our babies. Silicone, on the other hand, is sturdy and doesn't leach, while still remaining soft enough to be gentle on your baby's mouth, gums, and skin.
Haakaa have several options when you're looking for dummies. Let’s start by looking at our Newborn Silicone Dummy. As the name implies, this dummy is specifically designed for our very smallest babies – those aged from newborn to three months. Made of one solid piece of food-grade silicone, this dummy is not only soft and gentle, but contains no joins, cracks or edges that can harbour bacteria. It's easy to clean and sterilise – it goes great in any steam steriliser, or just boil in water for 2-3 minutes! This dummy features a traditional teat shape and U-shaped design to promote natural breathing through the nose.
Next up is the Silicone Flexi-Dummy and Diamond/Round Holder Set. Like all of our dummies, this is made from a single piece of soft and flexible 100% food-grade silicone, so there are no separate pieces that can be pulled off. The flared shield curves away from the nose and cheeks, helping prevent dummy rash. It also comes with a holder to help keep the dummy from falling to the ground when you're out and about! Just remember to detach the holder from the dummy and store it out of reach when you put your baby to bed, and only keep it attached when your child is under close supervision. This dummy is suitable for children three months and older.
For those babies might prefer an orthodontic teat, we have a Silicone Dummy just for you! Also suitable for babies from three months of age, the orthodontic teat of this dummy makes it ideal for exclusively breastfed babies (depending on their preferences, of course!). For older children, the slightly larger ring makes it much easier for them to grip and put back in their mouths should they drop it.
Finally, you'll need somewhere to store your dummies, especially when heading out. Most parents quickly learn just how common it is for babies to drop their dummies, leaving them dirty and difficult to resterilise while you're away from home, and so having a backup or two can help make life a whole lot easier. Haakaa's Silicone Dummy Holder Case is the perfect solution. Also made of one piece of 100% food-grade silicone, this holder is soft, lightweight, and can fit up to three dummies at once! What's more, it can attach easily to any bag or stroller, making it a breeze to find a replacement dummy for the one that has just fallen in a puddle. To top it all off, the holder is just as easy to wash and sterilise as the dummies themselves are – just pop it into a steam steriliser or boil in water for 2-3 minutes. It's the ideal way to keep dust and dirt away from your spare dummies.
Remember, though – even if you've tried a whole range of different dummies, you may find that your child doesn't like any of them. That is perfectly normal. While many babies like the comfort sucking on a dummy can give them, plenty of children never take to them at all, no matter the shape, size, or material. Or there may only be one specific type of dummy your baby likes. It's all a matter of trying everything and figuring out what your baby likes, doesn’t like, or just what works for your unique set of circumstances.