An Insight into my Childhood – Dummies

I’m quite open minded when it comes to parenting, each to their own. I feel that being a parent, especially the first year, is all about survival and a parent needs to do whatever they need to do in order to get through and survive.

Breastfeeding, formula feeding, purées, finger foods, baby led weaning, co sleeping, cry it out, controlled crying, Gina Ford. Whatever works for you.

There is one parenting choice that I cannot stand though, one thing that I detest more than anything else.

Dummies.

I hate them. To see a newborn baby with a lump of plastic covering half it’s face is the saddest sight. At the other end of the scale, seeing 2,3,4 year olds walking around with dummies – attached to their top with a clip so they can always have it close at hand. Repulsive.

This topic is quite close to my heart. I, like a lot of children, had a dummy. I remember this dummy vividly. It was orange plastic with a teat that had gone yellow from years of use. I remember clearly being told to say bye bye to the dummy and to put it in the toilet. My parents then flushed the toilet and I screamed like I’ve never screamed before.

I was 4 years old.

This dummy was such a huge part of my life that I wouldn’t go anywhere without it, slept with it, carried it everywhere. I only took it out of my mouth to eat!

It was at this point, age 4, that my parents realised it had become a problem. Yes, it took them that long.

The trouble was that I had learnt to talk with dummies in my mouth. I would push the teat to the side of my mouth and talk around it. When that dummy was taken away from me I may as well have been mute, none of my words were clear and the pronunciation was completely off.

I had speech therapy for at least a year after getting rid of the dummy. I couldn’t pronounce my L’s or S’s mainly and remember the therapy sessions as though they were yesterday. Mum and I would walk to the Health Centre after my nursery session once a week and sit in a room with a lady surrounded by toys. She’d get me to talk about the toys and even gave me homework – I remember having to colour in a picture of a snake with s words all over it…

After a year. ‘nake’ became Snake, ‘yoyyy’ became Lolly or Lorry, ‘yam’ became Lamb.

From memory this was an incredibly stressful time for me as a child and looking back I cannot believe that my parents 1) gave me dummies and 2) didn’t take it away until so late.

I now cannot stand dummies. They epitomise to me everything I have said in this post, I look at dummies and I see a shy, uncomfortable, little redheaded girl who spent 4 years with the comfort of her dummy. I see the trauma of dummies being taken away and the difficulty of learning to speak properly again without dummies.

LP never had a dummy and Little Man will never have one either. I would hate for my children to have to go through what I went through as a child because of a choice I’ve made to give them a dummy when no baby ‘needs’ a dummy – or any other ‘comfort’ object, blankets, teddies etc. When you give something to your child you have to think of how you’re one day going to take that thing away and the implications that could have for your child.

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9 Comments

  1. Cheryl Hoddell
    August 2, 2013 / 9:39 am

    If you don’t get them off one by 12 months it’s really bloody hard. I hate seeing toddlers and young children with them all day, for sleep is one thing but not constantly. I quite like the Supernanny way of putting them in a envelope and sending them to the dummy fairy. She says ‘lots of babies needs these dummies and you’re not a baby are you? You’re a big girl, only babies need dummies’. We tried E with one at 8 weeks out of desperation but I was relieved when he didn’t take to it.

  2. Sarah
    August 2, 2013 / 7:37 am

    A dummy saved my sanity. B had silent reflux when he was a baby and before we got the right medication for him, giving him a dummy meant the sucking action and subsequent saliva, alleviated some of his symptoms.

    However he stopped having a dummy when he was 9 months old. Just refused it.

    However I still feed him to sleep for naps and before bed, maybe I am a dummy now?!

  3. Hayley A
    August 2, 2013 / 10:13 am

    This was really interesting to read Donna – thank you for sharing. My two have both had dummies. April finally ‘released’ hers (without any issue thankfully) about 9 months ago, and I’m already planting the seed with Esther as hers seems to be creeping out of the bedroom more and more, and it’s becoming part of her face – which isn’t nice. But, for me, okay maybe I wouldn’t go so far as to say either of them ‘needed’ it, but it has helped them both settle to sleep (I couldn’t do that – breastfeeding didn’t go exactly to plan for me but that’s another story!) which in turn has made them and me happier. All good fun isn’t it… this parenting malarkey!

  4. Lauren (@laurenbigeejit)
    August 4, 2013 / 8:58 am

    I completely agree with you especially about the toddlers running around with a dummy in their mouths. Drives me mad. I was a thumb sucker as a child and it comes with its own problems… my speech wasn’t affected BUT I had a gap in my teeth where my top teeth jutted out 8mm over my bottom teeth. I had to have a brace at age 12 (and it was only then I stopped sucking my thumb – I guess a dummy is easier to remove!) and it completely wrecked my teeth as they’d softened under the plastic and now all my back molars are riddled with fillings. I have had the most horrendous experiences at the dentist (such as 12 fillings in 3 days) I wouldn’t wish on any child!

  5. April 6, 2014 / 9:53 pm

    It sounds like your experience was really traumatic and I’m sorry to hear that, flushing the dummy down the toilet seems harsh! It may seem crazy but I re introduced the dummy when Mushroom was 18 months (he had one earlier for reflux) to wean him as he was still breastfeeding at night & it was the only thing that worked! It was just for sleep at first but by 2.5yrs it crept into the days when he was tired/shy/nervous… I always intended it to be gone by 3 though & he knew this. It went to the dummy fairy last week and he asked for it a few times but we’ve had no tears. His speech isn’t affected but that may be because he didn’t have it all the time… It’s tough the choices we make isn’t it? I was always embarrassed about his dummy and rarely told people if I didn’t need to… But it saved me as it wasn’t until then that he slept through the night!

    • April 6, 2014 / 11:20 pm

      I completely understand your reasons, and a lot of people’s reasons and most children do just have them at night – They need some sort of comfort and a lot of the time a dummy works. The only reason it got to be an issue with me was because it wasn’t limited to bed times, it was all the time which is why my speech suffered. I’m glad mushroom has dealt with it well x

  6. August 10, 2014 / 6:29 pm

    I’m in agreement with you. I detest dummies and hate to see children walking round with them, especially those who are talking.

    I didn’t want N to have one, but then after one bad night I decided we’d try to get him asleep with one. But he refused. I was quite pleased about it, but he’s now a thumb sucker. And sucks really hard, so the dentist has said next visit if he’s not cutting it out, she’ll get stern with him before his milk teeth start falling out.

    He does have a taggy blanket comforter which he has at night and when he’s tired watching tv, and that’s when he sucks his thumb so I think once we remove the comforter he’ll hopefully stop. It’s a shame as much as I hate dummies, he probably wouldn’t have been a thumb sucker and a dummy would have been easier to get rid of. He’s quite relaxed if his taggy is in the wash or missing (the problem is he then just finds another soft toy with a label,) so I’m not worried about it going.

  7. September 14, 2016 / 8:29 pm

    This is such an interesting read Donna. None have mine would properly take a dummy, but I do think this is probably down to very little perseverance on our part! I would hate to take something away, and as soon as they get teeth I know they can really affect the shape in lots of ways, so I’d want to get rid of it as soon as teeth poked through anyway (I’m a tad obsessed about teeth)! They did help me with O for the first couple of weeks when my nipples were sore, but it was soon gone. I feel so so sad that all of this happened to you. Speech therapy sounds traumatic. One of my nephews has just got rid of a dummy at 3.5 years and his pronunciation is bad…people seem to think it’s funny or cute, but I think it’s sad because only his parents can understand him! I love that you have such a strong view on something so common – it’s so good to put things out there and sorry you had to go through all of that xx

    • September 14, 2016 / 9:30 pm

      Thanks for reading Esther. I’m not sure I would be so strong in my opinions now as I was a couple of years ago – but I still stand by them. I found it all so traumatic, and still remember it all so vividly. I’m glad I didn’t need to use dummies with mine and I hope your nephew’s speech improves – the speech therapy was fine really, it could be an option for him x

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