Myth-busting: Dummies

August 1, 2023

There is a lot of confusing advice about whether to use dummies or not. In the past, professional advice has been to avoid excessive dummy use and not let children talk with a dummy in as this could cause speech sound difficulties. But is there any evidence that this is true?

Myth: Using a dummy will cause my child to develop speech difficulties

There is some evidence to suggest that frequent dummy use in the daytime may affect young children’s speech sound development. It would suggest that having something in their mouths will make babies and toddlers less likely to babble and experiment with sounds, both of which are important for the development of speech. However, current evidence suggests that any speech sound errors associated with dummy use do clear up as children get older. Also, lots of children will have speech difficulties due to other reasons that are completely unrelated to dummy-use.

Benefits of dummy use

Dummies can be useful in settling young babies and encouraging strong sucking patterns, especially in premature babies, but their specific usefulness declines after a developmental age of about six months. Some studies have suggested that using a dummy lowers the risk of Sudden Infant Death syndrome, although more research is needed to confirm this.


There are a few suggested disadvantages of dummy use. These include:

  • Stopping breast-feeding early – however research in this area is undecided
  • Increased risk of middle ear infections (otitis media/glue ear)
  • Increased risk of dental problems and crooked teeth if used beyond age three
  • Dipping your baby’s dummy into anything sweet is very likely to cause tooth decay.

So, what now?

Your baby, your choice! As a parent/carer you need to be armed with the facts to decide what’s best for you and your family. Being aware of the potential risks and benefits will help you to make this decision. If you do decide to use a dummy, it’s a good idea to restrict dummy use to night-time where possible and to decide on an appropriate age to wean your baby off the dummy.

What is the best way to reduce dummy use?

There is useful advice and tips on reducing dummy use here.

Interested in reading more? Check out some of the articles we referenced when putting this blog together:

Does the duration and frequency of dummy (pacifier) use affect the development of speech? – Strutt – 2021 – International Journal of Language & Communication Disorders – Wiley Online Library

Dummies not to blame for common speech disorder in kids – The University of Sydney