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I have always frowned on the use of dummies, because my mother (who ran a nursery for 25 years) was adamant that they can hinder a child's speech development.

Our new baby is very unsettled and very collicy, and the midwife is recommending using a dummy to help settle him.

So, is there any evidence behind this claim that it hinders speech development? And if so, what is the age that it starts making a difference?

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    Our baby was collicy for the first month or so. We would do anything to calm her that seemed harmless. (No Cognac, though.) Giving that virtually every child uses a dummy, I think the small risk that it hinders development is worth taking if it calms her. It'll also help save your nerves. May 28, 2012 at 15:00
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    @Mathew Foscarini. Yes "dummy" is the normal word in England.
    – Urbycoz
    May 29, 2012 at 7:16
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    @MathewFoscarini: And Australia. May 29, 2012 at 19:22
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    Dummy just means 'not the real thing', just like a crash test dummy or a ventriloquist's doll. As for your question, colic will pass, and when it does, you can begin to give your baby the dummy only during nap/sleep times. There's plenty of time until speech begins.
    – Ana
    May 30, 2012 at 18:19
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    In the US we also call a pacifier a binky. Nov 8, 2012 at 7:34

3 Answers 3

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I remembered reading that recent pediatric research in the US has said that pacifiers are OK. I looked at some recent papers and found these:

I would summarize these papers as saying pacifiers are good for infants below 6 months of age, bad for children over 3 years of age, and neutral for children aged 6 months to 3 years.

edit: I realized I didn't actually answer your specific question. I found no papers at all on the subject of pacifiers and speech development, which implies that the concern is not considered credible by current pediatricians.

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    + 1000: Great list of up to date sources, and intelligent analysis of the relative data.
    – deworde
    May 30, 2012 at 15:32
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    Simple... dummies are for sleeping only. That's the rule to follow!
    – Tim Galvin
    Dec 20, 2016 at 20:51
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This is my opinion, not a study, but I suspect the statement is related to awake/play time, not rest and sleep. By 6 months your baby should move past the collic phase and so either no longer require the dummy/pacifier or only need it for sleep.

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LINK to ADA discussion on tooth development

So, it seems that use before teeth start to come in is fine. Like thumb-sucking, stopping it early is the way to go.

Also, if thumb-sucking and pacifier use goes beyond the 'norm', then it might be a problem, but is usually not a significant factor in speech development. LINK speech path

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