Shopping cart

There are currently no items in your shopping cart.

    Home ›› When to introduce a dummy to your baby 

    Home ›› When to introduce a dummy to your baby 

    Breastfeeding and Dummies: when to introduce a dummy to your baby


    Reading time: 4 mins


    Hooray! You’ve weighed up the pros and cons of introducing a dummy and you’ve decided what’s best for your baby. 


    Like most parents, you’re probably now wondering how to introduce a dummy, and it’s completely normal to have a lot of questions. You might wonder exactly when to use a dummy, or if using a dummy for a newborn’s breastfeeding journey makes a difference when transitioning to bottle-feeding. 

    When it comes to breastfeeding and dummies, we’ve got the answers – so let’s dive into it. If you have any medical concerns, though, remember that we’re no substitute for a professional who knows you and your baby, so ask your doctor for advice.

    When to introduce a dummy:


    When can you introduce a dummy? If you’re using a dummy for a newborn, breastfeeding should have been established first, which means it’s best to delay introducing a dummy until about four to six weeks.1 If you’re switching from breastfeeding to feeding your baby from a bottle, using a dummy may help your baby get used to the artificial nipple shape of the bottle.


    While most babies have no problem swapping between their mother’s nipple and the artificial nipple shapes of feeding bottles, there is still conflicting evidence about whether early dummy use can cause breastfeeding difficulties. Therefore, it is recommended to postpone dummy introduction until your baby’s feeding method and pattern are well-established,1,2 whether that’s breastfeeding, bottle-feeding or a combination of both

    If you’re considering a dummy because your baby is struggling to accept the artificial nipple of a bottle, try the Philips Avent Natural Response baby bottle. The wide, soft nipple feels and works like the breast to complement your baby's own drinking rhythm. The unique nipple releases milk in the same way as your breast, too, using your baby's natural tongue compression to open the bottle nipple. During pauses, the milk flow automatically stops, allowing your baby to swallow and breathe comfortably before drinking again.

    How to introduce a dummy to your baby:

    Once your baby is ready for a dummy, use these tips and guidelines to help introduce it effectively:


    1. A dummy does not substitute a meal
      If you’re breastfeeding, it’s important that you stick to your regular feeding times. In other words, don’t let the dummy take the place of or delay your newborn’s meal times. A dummy can make it harder to spot the signs that your baby is hungry,1 so be sure to use dummies solely to meet your child’s suckling needs after meals or at bedtime.

    2. Don’t force it
      If your baby doesn’t want a dummy, there’s no reason to force it. The dummy is solely meant to comfort and relax your baby when they are upset or need to suck. If your baby spits the dummy out, that’s the end of the session and there’s no need to put it back in.1

    3. Keep it clean
      It’s easy for a dummy to accumulate germs. Just as you would with a bottle, you should sterilise your baby’s dummy on a regular basis: every day for the first six months, and twice a week after that. You should also sterilise a new dummy before you first use it. Take a look at our guide to how to clean and sterilise a dummy.

    4. Never tie it anywhere
      Remember never to tie your baby’s dummy anywhere. This includes around your newborn’s neck, hands or cot. For the safety of your child, the dummy shouldn’t have a cord or other attachments at all.1

    5. Leave the honey and sugar in the cupboard
      Ensure that you are giving your baby their dummy clean and ‘as is’. There’s no need for any sweetener, sugar or honey. In fact, a dummy coated in sugar could result in tooth damage for your baby.1

    6.  Introduce it during bedtimes 
      While you’re soothing your baby to sleep, offering them a dummy can help them drift off. Choose a soother that’s safe, BPA-free and designed for your baby’s age. Offer the dummy whenever your baby is settling down to sleep, both day and night, but you don’t have to replace the dummy if it falls out while your baby is sleeping.1

    What you need

    Choose the best pacifier for your baby’s need


    We can answer the question, ‘when can you give a baby a dummy?’, but no one knows your baby like you do. When to introduce a dummy is entirely up to you, but the trick to introducing a dummy successfully is to never force it and never let it substitute mealtimes. A dummy is intended only to meet your baby’s natural suckling needs outside breastfeeding or bottle feeding.

    When to stop using a dummy


    Knowing when to use a dummy also means knowing when to stop. A dummy is a temporary measure, and it’s recommended that you phase it out between six and twelve months.1

    There are several disadvantages to letting your baby use a dummy for too long. Babbling and playing with sounds is important for speech development, and your baby may be less likely to experiment with sounds if they have a dummy in their mouth. Using a dummy can also change the way your baby’s teeth grow.1


    You can wean your baby off their dummy gradually, reducing dummy use to only when they’re going to sleep, then phasing it out altogether. If they miss the dummy, you could try giving them a blanket or toy they’re fond of when they want to be soothed.3

    With older children, it may be harder to convince them to give up the dummy. You may be able to persuade them to trade their dummy for a toy or activity, to encourage them to give it away to someone they care about, to give them stickers to reward them for not using the dummy, or to win them over by reading or inventing stories about children giving up their dummies. Pointing out that kids older than them don’t use dummies can help as well – children enjoy feeling grown-up!3

    With the right approach for your child, you can help to wean your baby off their dummy and move on to the next exciting stage in your journey together.

    Meet the Baby+ App

    Meet the Baby+ App

    Get the app that supports you in tracking your baby’s development and allows you to save those special moments forever.

    Download now:



    1 Using a dummy, Hertfordshire Community NHS Trust. https://www.hct.nhs.uk/media/2349/use-a-dummy-v2.pdf

    2 Use of dummies (non-nutritive sucking): information for parents, NHS Southern
    West Midlands Newborn Network. https://www.networks.nhs.uk/nhs-networks/staffordshire-shropshire-and-black-country-newborn/documents/‌SWMNN%20Use%20of%20Dummies%20Information%20for%20‌Parents.‌pdf

    3 Ditch the dummy and bottle, NHS Derbyshire Family Health Service. https://www.derbyshirefamilyhealthservice.nhs.uk/our-services/0-5-years/toddlers-1-3-years/feeding-and-nutrition/ditch-dummy-and-bottle

    You are about to visit a Philips global content page


    Our site can best be viewed with the latest version of Microsoft Edge, Google Chrome or Firefox.