When we, as adults, feel down in the dumps, we often turn to comfort food – or liquids! – to make us feel calm and consoled. A bar of chocolate or a nice glass of red wine can be all it takes to stop us from throwing adult-style tantrums.
Other than breastmilk or formula, babies don’t have the luxury of reaching for these treats just yet. They can, however, find that same sense of comfort in sucking on a dummy.
The sucking action has a relaxing effect on babies, that helps them to settle down easier. Watching them suck on their dummies at a rhythmic pace is rather hypnotic, it helps them as well as their parents lull themselves into a sound sleep.
Dummies are a great aid for babies and adults alike – when nothing else succeeds in calming a crying child, the dummy is usually the safest bet. Once you’ve experienced the calming effects a dummy can have on your child, you’ll never travel without one again.
As brilliant a tool as dummies are, you will have to stay on top of keeping them clean and safe for your child. You can count on your baby spitting or throwing out their dummy at least fifteen times a day and watching it land on anything from the floor, the dog or the puddle.
Following simple routines and techniques will ensure your baby dummies stay clean and safe for continuous use. Here they are!
First things first: as trendy as it is to DIY everything at the moment, don’t attempt to fashion your baby’s dummy out of an old bottle teat or the like. If you want to ensure 100% safety for your child, buy a new dummy at the chemist.
Before allowing your child to use it for the first time, bring a saucepan of water to the boil and let the dummy sit in it for five minutes or so. Wait until it is completely cooled before you offer it to your child.
For regular deep-cleansing, consider investing in a sterilizing machine to kill any remaining bacteria.
THE TRUSTED DISHWASHER
If you want to save yourself time and worry, buy silicone-based dummies for your child. These can be cleaned in the top rack of the dishwasher, allowing you to quickly and efficiently wash several dummies in one load.
Do not use latex dummies in the dishwasher, as they are too delicate and will end up breaking down and damaging even after as little as one cycle.
If you’ve always preferred using natural cleaning products over chemicals, you’ll be well aware of the miracle effects of vinegar on – well, pretty much anything and everything. Including your child’s dummies.
Soaking your kid’s dummies in a part vinegar part water solution once a day acts as a great all-natural antibacterial and antifungal disinfectant. Just be sure to rinse them off properly to avoid any bad-taste traumas!
THE PUBLIC & THE AT-HOME METHOD
The worst place for your child to drop their dummies is out in public – onto the floor of a busy restaurant or shopping center, the grimy streets or the playmats of a play centre. This is when you’ll really want to be sure to give the dummy in question a proper clean.
If you do not have a spare dummy at hand, take the dropped dummy to the nearest restrooms and run it under hot water. Use a little bit of soap to wash it and then rinse it off thoroughly and shake it dry.
On days your child is using the dummy strictly at home, where you can gauge the levels of cleanliness from room to room, a quick rinse under hot water will suffice. It’s the unknown landing sites you should be wary of – familiar territories aren’t quite as scary if you know you’re tending to them.
There are many things about parenting that gross us out until we become parents ourselves one day: diaper changing, vomit-stained clothes and the stubborn reliance on saliva to clean everything from chocolate-covered faces to dirty dummies.
Some people frown upon this method as outdated or as applied by hippy moms only, when in fact, using your own saliva to cleanse a dummy that has barely touched the ground, can actually contribute to strengthening your child’s immune systems.
THE REGULAR CHECK-UP
Before you clean your child’s dummies – following any of the methods described above – always make sure to give it a thorough check-up. Is the teat starting loose its colouring? Are there are any cracks, weak spots or holes in it? If so, it’s time to say goodbye.
You should also keep in mind that, you will have to replace the dummy according to your child’s age as well. A newborn’s dummy will be much too small for a toddler, for example, and could end up becoming a choking hazard.
Giving the teat a good tug after cleaning will let you know whether it is still firmly secured and not prone to loosen while your baby is sucking on it. This should form a regular part of your cleaning and check-up routine.
Whichever way you choose to clean your dummy, you must ensure it is properly dry before storing it away. Leaving it slightly wet or damp could promote the growth of fungus, which could be damaging to your child’s health.
Let the dummies air-dry on a clean muslin cloth or paper towel to avoid contamination from an unclean surface.
Most babies and toddlers go through a phase in which they simply cannot live without their dummy, so it’s important to have plenty of spares on hand for emergency situations. When you’ve got around five dummies on the go at any given time, you’ll want a good place to store them safely.
Once you’ve washed and dried the dummies, place them in a sealable bag or Tupperwear box so you’ll always know where to find them – clean and ready for immediate use.