Forget about throwing your dummy out of the pram, youngsters are being urged to dump their soothers for good.
While dummies can be useful in calming down young babies, once children get older, sucking a dummy can become a habit that is hard to break.
Health professionals say prolonged use of dummies can lead to problems with speech and teeth development and are encouraging parents to wean their children off dummies once they reach 12 months old.
Speech and language therapists from Lancashire Care NHS Foundation Trust have teamed up with children’s centres across central Lancashire to launch a Dummy Dump.
Boxes will be located at children’s centres across Preston and surrounding areas where children can post their dummies in exchange for a reward.
Youngsters who go along will be given a reward card which will be marked with a stamp or smiley face after every night without a dummy.
Parents will be urged to let their child go three sleeps without their dummies before they are rewarded.
Ann Strong, speech and language therapist at Lancashire Care NHS Foundation Trust, said: “Babies and young children need to develop their sucking skills and dummies can be useful in this.
“However, once a child reaches 12 months old, they no longer need the comfort of a dummy and it is just habitual.
“Research tells us that dummies can discourage babies from babbling and get in the way of the development of their speech and language skills.
“Over-use of dummies can also cause children to become droolers and also cause problems with mis-shapen teeth.
“We have seen children who are almost of school age still using dummies, so we decided to set up this Dummy Dump to help them give the habit up.”
Natalie Alldrick, 31, of Ingol, Preston, attends Preston West Children’s Centre with her 14-month-old son Xavier.
She said: “When children become dependent on dummies, it is hard for parents to get them to give up. I think this Dummy Dump is a great idea.”
• For advice about your child’s speech and language, call 01772 644510 to talk to a therapist.
To find out more, visit www.lancashirecare.nhs.uk