Babies love to suck – it’s what they were literally born to do. When they’re not feeding, babies usually still want to be sucking, and that’s where a good soother is worth its weight in gold.
Beyond calming and comforting a bub, a quality soother is also like a little mouth workout for tots – it exercises their mouth and jaw muscles. Whether you call it a binky, dummy or paci, mums usually have a whole bunch of questions about introducing soothers to their little ones.
Our friends at NUK have helped us answer the six most common soother questions from new mums.
1. Does my baby need a soother?
Some mums take a ‘suck it and see’ approach (pardon the pun) to work out whether their bub needs some extra comfort. Others are prepared for the possibility their newborn will need some additional comfort and have soothers ready to go in their hospital bag. It’s a personal decision.
Every baby is born with a need to suck, it’s what keeps them alive. But sucking is also comforting. If breastfeeding isn’t enough to calm and comfort, a soother can help. “This so-called non-nutritive sucking is often still present after drinking, and a soother will help here,” explains orthodontist Dr Hubertus von Treuenfels. “But while experience shows that many babies need a soother, don’t force one on your baby if it doesn’t. For the rest, soothers also make a mother’s everyday life easier.”
2. What’s better: sucking a soother or a thumb?
The answer to this question is all about design. Soothers are made for sucking. They’re softer and more flexible than a thumb. And a well-designed soother has a teat that’s made to follow the contours of bub’s mouth, promoting healthy mouth development.
“If a child sucks their thumb a lot, changes to the jaw may occur and an open bite may result. This is because a thumb is not very pliable and does not adapt to the conditions in the mouth as well as a soother would,”says Dr Hubertus von Treuenfels.
It’s also easier to stop using a soother, because you can take it away – unlike a thumb!
3. What’s the best shape of soother for my baby?
Usually, soothers come in two shapes – cherry or asymmetrical (jaw-adapted – pictured above).
“I would recommend the second,” Dr Hubertus von Treuenfels said. “These soothers are designed to facilitate jaw growth and tooth row alignment. For these reasons, specialists and researchers developed a shape that is adapted to the form the nipple assumes in the child’s mouth while breastfeeding.”
4. Can baby use a soother while they’re teething?
Dr Hubertus von Treuenfels says while you can continue to use a soother when bub is teething, you just need to keep a close eye on what’s happening.
“The first teeth will grow between the six and eight months. This may be a little painful. The pressure pain can be soothed by teething rings or a massage instrument, which makes it easier for children to have the teeth break through. You can, however, continue to use the soother. Just watch out in case teeth leave marks or even cracks in it, and replace the soother in this case.”
5. What’s the difference between transparent and golden soothers?
It has to do with what each soother is made of. The most common types of soothers are transparent and made from silicone, which is heat resistant. It’s also neutral in taste and smell and won’t deteriorate easily in the light.
Latex soothers are more of a golden colour and are made from natural latex milk. They’re very elastic and pliable which works well for teething babies. Your baby will most probably have their own preference.
6. When should I replace a soother?
Soothers need to be replaced every four weeks to two months. But make sure you check your bub’s soother regularly to make sure it isn’t damaged – if it is, throw it out and replace immediately.
It’s also important to keep soothers clean and protected when bub isn’t using them. And here’s a brilliant idea – the all-new NUK Soothers come in a reusable storage box that you use to clean soothers on the go. Just add 40ml of water to the case, pop in the soother and microwave for four minutes. Genius!
(This article is written in partnership with NUK)