benefits of soothers
Development

Soother comforts

Sucking on a soother can be very helpful for comforting babies – find out about the benefits and safety tips for using soothers.

Benefits of soothers

Did you know that babies are born with a requirement to suck? Some babies even suck their thumbs or fingers in the womb.
The very topic of soothers tends to attract a mixed reaction from both parents and childcare professionals. However, some parents consider soothers as the ‘must-have’ accessory for their baby as they can help to calm and soothe an infant. It’s important to understand the benefits and risks of soother use – plus know the safety tips and steps to help wean your baby from the soother when the time comes.

What type of soother should I buy?

Most soothers come with a silicone or rubber teat, and a plastic or silicone mouth shield and handle. The mouth shield prevents your baby from choking on, or swallowing, the teat. Orthodontic dummies are flatter than traditional cherry-shaped dummies. They are shaped to encourage your baby to suck in the same way as when he’s breastfeeding. These may have less of an effect on how your baby’s teeth develop.

Soother safety

The HSE has the following advice on soothers:
Some research suggests that giving a baby a soother every time they are being placed to sleep may reduce the risk of cot death. However, if you are breastfeeding and you choose to give your baby a soother, wait until after one month of age to make sure breastfeeding is well established.

benefits of soothers
Do not worry if the soother falls out while your baby is asleep and not force your baby to take a soother if they refuse it.
Do not attach strings and cords to soothers, as these could strangle your baby or cause them to choke. Keep soothers clean and never dip them in sugar, honey or other foods and drinks.

How can I help my child to give up using a soother once they are older?

  • Only use soothers at set times, e.g. bedtime.
  • Remove the soother when the child is asleep.
  • Take your child’s soother out when they are trying to talk or busy playing.
  • When the times comes, give the soother to Santa, the tooth fairy or the Easter bunny!

Dental advice

The Dental Health Foundation (dentalhealth.ie) advises that by six months, your baby should be sucking less and chewing more and that children should not be using a soother after 12 months.

More like this:

Tips to get baby to drink from a bottle
Pros and cons of soothers
Easing teething

Ask Sarah

Q I’ve heard a lot about the Paleo diet and as I am very interested in reducing the amount of processed foods and grain based meals my family eats, we are considering following this diet. From what I read it seems to be a back-to-basics type of eating. Is a Paleo diet safe for children? My kids are aged seven and nine.

A The Paleo diet is one of the most fashionable diets around at the moment. It is also known as the ‘caveman diet’ and is based on cutting out processed foods, starchy foods like bread and potatoes and eating more meat, vegetables and fruit.
As fad diets go, it is not the worst but there are some good and bad sides to it. Reducing the amount of processed foods we eat is always a good idea and by doing that you will usually reduce the amount of fat, salt and sugar you eat, which is a good thing! The problem with the Paleo diet is that it also cuts out dairy (on the basis that cavemen didn’t drink milk) and this means that the diet is very low in calcium. For this reason it is really not suitable for children who do need a lot of calcium for growing bones. How did cavemen manage without dairy? They ate a lot more food than we do (up to 10,000 calories per day compared to the 2,000 most of us eat). By eating that amount of food they were able to pick up just enough calcium from green vegetables and seeds. To put it in perspective, you would need to eat 16 servings of broccoli a day to get all the calcium you need. This is easier to do if you eat 10,000 calories per day rather than 2,000.
The other problem with the paleo diet is that it is not entirely based in science. Many of the Paleo diets out there say you should not eat wheat, even though we know that cavemen did in fact eat wheat and other grains. These diets also don’t recommend that you eat blubber and the big lumps of fat that were also a large part of the caveman diet!
A final problem is that many Paleo diets encourage people to cut out beans and lentils and to get their protein from meat and fish instead. Many studies over the last few years are clear that eating too much animal protein is linked with more cancer and heart disease. Eating some vegetarian meals based on beans and lentils is a great way to get your protein without always going for meat.
Is this a diet we should follow? I think there is a lot we can learn from the Paleo diets. We could all do with eating less salt, sugar and processed foods and adding in more nuts and seeds as well as more vegetables. However, I think following a strict Paleo diet could lead to low levels of calcium and vitamin D and so it is not suitable for children or teens and adults would need to think about a calcium supplement.

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Ask Sarah

Q I’ve heard a lot about the Paleo diet and as I am very interested in reducing the amount of processed foods and grain based meals my family eats, we are considering following this diet. From what I read it seems to be a back-to-basics type of eating. Is a Paleo diet safe for children? My kids are aged seven and nine.

A The Paleo diet is one of the most fashionable diets around at the moment. It is also known as the ‘caveman diet’ and is based on cutting out processed foods, starchy foods like bread and potatoes and eating more meat, vegetables and fruit.
As fad diets go, it is not the worst but there are some good and bad sides to it. Reducing the amount of processed foods we eat is always a good idea and by doing that you will usually reduce the amount of fat, salt and sugar you eat, which is a good thing! The problem with the Paleo diet is that it also cuts out dairy (on the basis that cavemen didn’t drink milk) and this means that the diet is very low in calcium. For this reason it is really not suitable for children who do need a lot of calcium for growing bones. How did cavemen manage without dairy? They ate a lot more food than we do (up to 10,000 calories per day compared to the 2,000 most of us eat). By eating that amount of food they were able to pick up just enough calcium from green vegetables and seeds. To put it in perspective, you would need to eat 16 servings of broccoli a day to get all the calcium you need. This is easier to do if you eat 10,000 calories per day rather than 2,000.
The other problem with the paleo diet is that it is not entirely based in science. Many of the Paleo diets out there say you should not eat wheat, even though we know that cavemen did in fact eat wheat and other grains. These diets also don’t recommend that you eat blubber and the big lumps of fat that were also a large part of the caveman diet!
A final problem is that many Paleo diets encourage people to cut out beans and lentils and to get their protein from meat and fish instead. Many studies over the last few years are clear that eating too much animal protein is linked with more cancer and heart disease. Eating some vegetarian meals based on beans and lentils is a great way to get your protein without always going for meat.
Is this a diet we should follow? I think there is a lot we can learn from the Paleo diets. We could all do with eating less salt, sugar and processed foods and adding in more nuts and seeds as well as more vegetables. However, I think following a strict Paleo diet could lead to low levels of calcium and vitamin D and so it is not suitable for children or teens and adults would need to think about a calcium supplement.