A dummy comprises a rubber or soft plastic teat, a hard plastic shield with holes and either a ring or a handle to hold the device easily.
Babies are often given a dummy to suck on for comfort. Most babies have a strong sucking reflex and sucking often soothes them.
Baby dummies are also called pacifiers or soothers.
Most baby dummies are safe if used appropriately. While injuries from dummies are rare, there are risks associated with using old dummies or dummies that do not meet mandatory safety requirements. Unsafe dummies can cause a child to choke, strangle or suffer infection.
Children under three years old are particularly vulnerable to choking as they have not yet developed the reflex action to cough up objects that lodge in their throats.
Infants using unsafe dummies can choke:
if dummy shields are too small and don’t have ventilation holes—a dummy that is too small can get wholly inside a baby’s mouth and block its airway
when teats detach from the shields of old or poorly made dummies—the teat can get stuck in a child’s throat and cause suffocation.
Babies can also suffer:
strangulation if dummies attached to a cord or ribbon wrap around their neck
infections when the teat of an old or poorly made dummy allows saliva, food and other substances with bacteria to enter inside it, or when the dummy is not cleaned properly.
To minimise risks, there is a mandatory safety standard for these products.
For more information, view tips below for buying safe baby dummies and using them safely .