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Dental Profession

Ditch the Dummy

By Joanne Jones, speech and language therapist

Dummies have their place. Similarly, to thumb sucking, 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.

Dummy and Digit Sucking

A dummy and digit sucking reinforce 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.

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Speech and Language Therapist

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 or digit suckers. 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.

The Ditch the Dummy Challenge

I launched the 5 day challenge in April and another in July and the results have been amazing.

The parents have found the Ditch the Dummy 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 www.facebook.com/ditchthedummy

Read more on our thoughts about whether thumb or dummy is best.

About the author

Joanne Jones, speech and language therapist

After 20 years of working as a speech and language therapist for the NHS, Joanne Jones decided to go her 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.

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