Worksop mum urges parents to ‘ditch the dummy’ after son’s speech problems

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A Worksop mum has urged parents to “ditch the dummy” after noticing the effects one had on her baby son’s speech.

Millie Keeling, from Carlton in Lindrick, was a teenage mum when she noticed her first son, Marley, struggling to talk.

Now she has shared her story as part of the “Drop the Dummy” campaign launched by Nottinghamshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust.

“As a teenage mum I didn’t know what to expect about bringing up a child,” said Millie, now aged 25.

“I gave Marley a dummy from birth as I thought this was the ‘norm’, and it looked cute. Marley was 18 months when I noticed he wasn’t talking clearly and I couldn’t understand a word he was trying to say. I was also worried about his hearing as he didn’t seem to acknowledge me.”

Millie took Marley to a stay and play session at West Bassetlaw Children’s Centre and was referred onto a programme run by Nottinghamshire Healthcare to help develop a child’s language and communication.

She said: “I was told about how dummies can affect a child’s speech, development of teeth, hearing and other learning at school. I was shocked at the damage it could do. I thought I would have problems when I removed Marley’s dummy as he’d always had it from birth, but he was great and wasn’t bothered at all.

“However, I’d had a second child, Jack, by this time and I decided to remove his dummy at the same time. Jack was harder to convince and he became angry and moody.”

The children’s centre suggested Millie tried the ‘Incredible Years’ and the ‘1, 2, 3 magic’ courses to help manage Jack’s behaviour.

“After I’d had my third child, Lyla, I was determined not to give her a dummy unless it was at night to help her settle” said Millie. “If I had known what damage a dummy could do to a child’s speech, listening and communication development, and also their teeth, I would never have used one for any of my children.

“It took Jack about six months to settle down but I would advise parents to stay strong, even if your child first refuses to give up the dummy.”

As part of the campaign, Nottinghamshire Healthcare is urging parents to keep dummy use to sleep times only, from six months, aiming for them to be removed completely by one year.

n For more visit www.nottinghamshirehealthcare.nhs.uk/speech-and- language-therapy- children