Is it Ok to give a baby a dummy/pacifier to settle to sleep?
You will know from my book, blog and Instagram posts that I’m not a huge fan of using a dummy /pacifier to aid settling. Of course I do understand that for a lot of parents a dummy can be a life line, especially at 4am when your baby just won’t settle even after a feed. A dummy fix can be the easiest way to settle in that very moment so If a dummy / pacifier is working well for you then that’s great!
Can Babies Self Settle with a Dummy?
My only issue with using a dummy is for the newborn stage. If you meet your newborn’s every need, by way of feeding, digestion and structure of day, your baby won’t need a dummy. It is therefore masking another issue which then becomes a habitual settling tool. So no, the dummy is a settling prop which doesn’t support self settling.
Dummy use, during the newborn stage can also affect digestion by the sucking action alone. At a later stage it can encourage frequent waking due to the dummy falling out, which ultimately works against your baby getting uninterrupted sleep.
How to Encourage Self Settling
If a dummy is part of your baby’s routine and is used to settle to sleep but you are having sleep and settling problems? The dummy could be used in a way to help resolve these issues, especially if you’re also using rocking and other settling techniques.
The dummy can actually help simplify your baby’s or toddler settling process. The more you do to help your child settle, the longer it takes to settle moving forward as your child becomes reliant on the parent to send to sleep.
Lots of rocking/pacing/white noise will send your baby to sleep but once put down, your child is likely to wake up having moved to the cot and a still position.
My dummy settling plan gives the dummy more power to settle while eliminating other settling crutches to simplify and speed up settling to sleep and can also be used to phase out the dummy at the same time.
Delay dummy use and restrict the dummy to the cot, offering the dummy to settle as a last resort only after you have given your child the opportunity to self settle and if unsuccessful.
I would recommend 2-3 attempts to self settle before finally giving the dummy. This plan gives the dummy the settling power and is more likely to work.
This advice is for a child who is already attached to a dummy/ pacifier. For a successful settling plan you would need to look at the approach holistically. Adjust your child’s routine and make sure you are meeting their needs in order to promote settling to sleep.
For help investigating settling issues and a personalised plan of action do book in for a baby sleep consultation.