December 16, 2014

40% of pre-schoolers give their soother to Santa Claus, Ireland’s leading online parenting community reveals the results of its latest research into the use of soothers in Ireland. Of all the methods used to persuade or wean a child off their soother, Irish mums favour giving it to Santa Claus as the best solution.

1. 40% of pre-schoolers give their soother to Santa Claus
2. 25% of mums take their soother away gradually moving from day to night time over a pro-longed time period
3. 14% of mums tell them that ‘big girls & boys’ don’t need a soother and take it away
4. 11% of mums encourage their children to give their soother to the fairies
5. 7% of children give their soother to a newborn sibling or cousin
6. 3% of mums cut the teat on the soother so that it’s less enjoyable to suck

Over half or 54% of toddlers in Ireland are using their soother past their second birthday with MummyPages research revealing that 30% give up before their 3rd birthday, 10% hold on until their 4th birthday while 6% refuse to let go of their soother until their 5th birthday. It was somewhat surprising that a third (34%) of Irish mums reported feeling ‘judged’ by other parents if their child still used a soother past their second birthday.

MummyPages research highlights:
• 85% of mums in Ireland choose to give their baby a soother
• 30% of mums regret giving their child a soother
• 61% of mums offer a reward to their child for giving up their soother
• 52% of mums struggled to wean their child off their soother
• 10% of mums were advised by a midwife or public health nurse to give their child a soother
• 80% of mums choose to give their baby a soother to help calm their baby in between feeds
• 20% of mums use a soother as it has been proven to help reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) or ‘cot death’

The research reveals that while 85% of mums in Ireland opted to give their baby a soother 30% later regretted their decision with over half of the mums’ surveyed admitting difficulty in weaning their child from their soother with every three out of five mums offering rewards to their little one in return for their soother.

Mum-in-Residence Laura Haugh is pictured with daughter Lucy (3) who is giving her soother to Santa Claus this Christmas

Mum-in-Residence Laura Haugh is pictured with daughter Lucy (3) who is giving her soother to Santa Claus this Christmas

Commenting on the research Laura Haugh, Mum-in-Residence for said:

“Soothers are a popular pacifying tool for many mums. Some parents prefer not to give them to their children as they don’t like the look of them, want them to learn to self-soothe, or are concerned about the impact of teat on the formation of their child’s teeth. However, a large majority of our mums say that giving their baby a soother has been a lifesaver to help keep them happy in between feeds, to help them sleep, and to soothe them during periods of teething and sickness. More importantly, a number of international research studies have proven that soother use can help to reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome by up to 90%.”

“However it is important for mums to remember that the longer the child continues to use the soother, the harder the weaning process will be. It is at this difficult time that parents may regret their past decisions in giving their child a soother. Experts recommend that a baby is weaned off their soother after 6 months when cot death risk is much lower, and before 12 months by which time soother use can become a dependency rather than a pacifying tool.”

“Christmas is the ideal time for older children to give up their soother as you can prepare them well in advance. This makes it a more positive experience where they are eager to please Santa in order to get on the ‘good list’ and receive the gifts they have asked for.”

Commenting on the use of soothers is MummyPages Expert, Joanna Fortune. Joanna is a clinical psychotherapist and founder of Solamh a Parent Child Relationship Clinic based in Dublin:

“A soother is a transitional object that provides psychological and emotional comfort for a child while allowing them to adjust to increased independence following total dependence on parents/caregivers. For some children it will be a soother but a comfort blanket or a particular soft toy. Such transitional objects offer a young child psychological comfort and reassurance as they begin to separate out from their mothers and realise that they are entirely separate beings, which happens after 6-8 months of age.”

“I think it is perfectly ok for children to use transitional objects like this as for as long as they need them. However if you feel it is causing them social discomfort or marking them out in their peer group you can chat with your child about how the soother/blankie/toy is just for bedtime and should stay in their bedroom during the day.”