This article is written by reflux parents for the benefit of reflux parents, based on their own experiences. It is not meant to replace medical advice and is of a general nature only. If you have any questions or concerns, please seek advice from your medical professional.

While dummy use is often controversial as they have known advantages and disadvantages, some infants with reflux seem to benefit from using a dummy. Dummy use is a personal choice and this may be one option you could consider. There is no evidence to suggest you should not use a dummy; however, you may like to discuss this option with your doctor or child health nurse.

Offering a dummy between feeds may help calm a distressed baby. Additionally, a medical study found that the ‘non-nutritive’ sucking (sucking without feeding) with a dummy can improve the rate the stomach empties and also decrease the number of reflux episodes in a group of premature infants.

Points to consider if you decide to use a dummy:

  • Ensure dummy meets standards set down by the Trade Practices Act e.g. the shield is the correct size and shape. Contact the ACCC for further information.
  • Inspect dummies frequently for signs of damage, clean them often and replace them regularly.
  • Do not force your infant to use a dummy.
  • Never tie a dummy around your infant’s neck.
  • Never wedge the dummy into baby’s mouth using a roll or object as this can cause an airway obstruction.
  • Never coat dummies with any sweet substance to encourage your infant to take it.
  • Ensure breastfeeding is well established before you introduce dummies.

Information reviewed by Professor (Adj) Jeanine Young, Nursing Director, Research, Royal Children’s Hospital, Brisbane
Additional information on gastro-oesophageal reflux and management suggestions are provided in our book “Reflux Reality: A Guide for Families”.

ACCC. (2009). Keeping Baby Safe: A Guide to Nursery Furniture. Canberra, ACT, Australia: ACCC. Available here

Karp, Harvey 2004, ‘A framework and strategy for understanding and resolving colic’, ModernMedicine, viewed 9 March, 2007 Available here

Task Force on Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. American Academy of Pediatrics 2005, ‘The changing concept of sudden infant death syndrome: diagnostic coding shifts, controversies regarding the sleeping environment, and new variables to consider in reducing risk’, Pediatrics, vol. 116:5, pp. 1245-1255, viewed 16 April 2008 Available here

Zhao CX et al 2004, ‘Effects of nonnutritive sucking on gastric emptying and gastroesophageal reflux in premature infants’, Zhonghua Er Ke Za Zhi. Chinese Journal of Pediatrics, vol 42:10, pp. 772- 6, viewed 16 April 2008 Available here