Home › Health Topics › Growth & Development > 

Dummies, thumbs and other comforters

dummies; dummy; comforter; pacifiers; thumb; habits. ;

Dummies, blankets, soft toys or thumbs  are some of the comforters (or pacifiers, or attachment objects) that help children relax.

  • Sucking or holding comforters helps very young children to feel safe when they are not with their parents or other family members until they are old enough to feel OK by themselves. 
  • Sucking is pleasant and calming for babies.

Not all children have comforters such as dummies or a special toy. Children who sleep near their parents or a sibling at night, and who are cared for during the day by a parent or other close family member seem less likely to need a comforter.

  • Comforters are very important for the children who do use them.

Parents can encourage a child to use a particular comforter (such as a teddy or soft toy, or a blanket) by leaving it with the child at bedtime, but it is not possible to make a child choose what parents want. It has to be something that is special for the child. By the age when a child may want a teddy or some other toy for comfort (usually over 1 year), there is little or no risk of suffocation, but it is recommended that toys should not be left in the cot before this age.

Sometimes children will not take any comforter but their thumbs or fingers.

  • Thumbs and fingers are harder to give up than dummies or other comforters because they are there all the time.
  • Try to encourage your toddler or preschool child not to talk with her thumb or fingers in her mouth.
  • Past the age of 3, thumb and finger sucking may cause dental problems. If this is happening for your child, you could think about whether her life is stressful, or whether this is a habit. Also talk to a dentist about it. Telling the child to stop is not usually helpful.
  • Many children go on sucking their thumbs into their teens, although this is something they tend to only do when they are concentrating on something or are tired, and is not a problem unless they are embarrassed by it.

To read more

 Have a look at these topics on the Raising Children Network

Also  on the Pregnancy, birth and baby website   

back to top

The information on this site should not be used as an alternative to professional care. If you have a particular problem, see a doctor, or ring the Parent Helpline on 1300 364 100 (local call cost from anywhere in South Australia).

This topic may use 'he' and 'she' in turn - please change to suit your child's sex.

Home › Health Topics › Growth & Development >