An Insight into my Childhood – Dummies

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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.

Everyone has a line though and mine is with dummies. I just can’t agree with them and they are not something I would ever use unless they were medically necessary. I hate them.

I hate seeing newborn babies with lumps of plastic covering half their faces. At the other end of the scale, seeing 2,3,4 year olds walking around with dummies is horrendous too. I just don’t see a need for it.

But, my thoughts on summies aren’t unfounded. I don’t hate dummies just because they’re ugly and look awful in photos. This topic is quite close to my heart.

I, like a lot of children, had a dummy and I remember my dummy vividly. It was orange plastic with a teat that had gone yellow from years of use. I had it day and night for years and it was my most treasured possession.

When my parents thought I’d had the dummy long enough and realised it had become a problem they decided it was time to go cold turkey with it. 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.

That dummy was such a huge part of my life and I wouldn’t go anywhere without it, I slept with it and I carried it everywhere. I only took it out of my mouth to eat! It was attached to me constantly for such a long time.

The trouble was that I had learnt to talk with a dummy 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 as no-one could understand me. I couldn’t pronounce my L’s or S’s mainly and remember the therapy sessions as though they were yesterday. My mother 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. Each time I said one of the s words I could colour a section.

After a year. ‘nake’ became Snake, ‘yo-yie’ became Lolly or Lorry, ‘yam’ became Lamb. It was a slow process and one that wouldn’t have been necessary if it hadn’t been for the dummy.

This was an incredibly stressful time for me as a child – and no doubt for my parents too. Looking back I cannot believe that my parents gave me a dummy and let me keep it for so many years. I am sure they had the same thoughts as well.

Because of what I went through I cannot stand dummies. I look at dummies and I see a shy, uncomfortable, little redheaded girl who spent the first four years of her life with the comfort of that dummy. I see the trauma of dummies being taken away and the difficulty of learning to speak properly again without a dummy in her mouth. I see such much unnecessary stress and upset. It’s something I just couldn’t put my children through.

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 to make my own life as a parent easier. It’s completely different if they have a medical condition that dictates the need for a dummy but I know these cases are a minority.

When you give something to your child as a comforter you have to think that one day you will need to take that away and the implications that could have for your child. I think this is something many parents don’t think about when giving their baby a dummy for the first time but it was the first thought for me.

An Insight into my Childhood - Dummies


  • Donna Wishart

    Donna Wishart is married to Dave and they have two children, Athena (12) and Troy (11). They live in Surrey with their two cats, Fred and George. Once a Bank Manager, Donna has been writing about everything from family finance to days out, travel and her favourite recipes since 2012. Donna is happiest either exploring somewhere new, with her camera in her hand and family by her side or snuggled up with a cat on her lap, reading a book and enjoying a nice cup of tea. She firmly believes that tea and cake can fix most things.

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  1. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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!

    1. 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. 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. 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

    1. 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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