Baby dummies which help comfort and settle a child are usually safe. However an unsafe dummy could could cause an infection or may choke, strangle or suffocate a baby.
We tested 30 dummies against the Australian Standard for:
- design and construction
- performance, and
- packaging and labelling.
Four of the 30 dummies we tested are unsafe. See our comparison table for more details.
The main hazards to watch out for with dummies are:
- Choking and suffocation Children under three years of age haven’t developed the reflex action to cough up objects that lodge in their throats and are vulnerable to choking. This can happen if the teat detaches from the shield of an old or poorly made dummy and gets stuck in their throat. If dummy shields are too small the child could get the entire dummy into their mouth, causing panic and/or distress; and if the dummy doesn’t have ventilation holes it could block their airways causing choking and suffocation.
- Strangulation can occur when dummies are attached to a cord or ribbon that can wrap around the baby’s neck. You should never tie a dummy on a string or ribbon around your baby’s neck, or on a cot, pram or other play equipment.
- Infection Infants are easily susceptible to infection and this can occur when the dummy hasn’t been cleaned properly or the teat allows saliva, food or other substances with bacteria to enter inside it. For the first six months you should sterilise dummies. After six months your child is more resistant to infections so washing the dummy with soap and water is enough.
The mandatory standard
Following investigations into unsafe dummies by CHOICE and the ACCC, a mandatory standard came into effect on 20 October 2006.
This standard covers design and construction, performance, and information and labelling, and all dummies must comply with these if sold in Australia. The two main tests where we found problems in our most recent test are:
- Shield dimensions The dummy is aligned on a template and a force is applied to the ring/handle. The dummy is then reversed and the force is applied to the teat. The dummy must not pass through the template in this test. If it does, the shield is considered to be too small - meaning a child is more likely to get the dummy wholly into their mouth, causing panic and/or distress. A child could still get a dummy that passes this test into their mouth, those dummies that fail this test have a higher risk.
- Tear test assesses the durability of the teat. In this test a slit is made in the teat of the dummy and a force is applied to the teat. The teat must not become detached as a result of this test. If it does become detached, it poses a choking hazard.
We also found some dummies failed information and labelling requirements. While these requirements are covered in the mandatory standard, we consider these failures to be very minor, and so they don’t play a part in our overall recommendation.
- Baby Solutions Silicone Soothers
- Billy Bob Pacifier – two front teeth with ring
- Booginhead Custom Pacifier
- Chicco Physio Soft Gommotto Latex Orthodontic
- Chicco Physio Soft Gommotto Silicone Orthodontic
- Closer to Nature Simply Intuitive
- Dr Brown’s Perform
- 1st Steps Orthodontic Pacifier
- Happy Baby SoftFeel Natural Latex Cherry Soother
- Happy Baby Steam ‘n’ Go Silicone Orthodontic Soother
- Hawaii Medical GumDrop Full-Term Pacifier Unscented
- Heinz Baby Basics Soft Touch Soothers Orthodontic
- Mam Original Orthodontic
- Mam Perfect
- Natural Rubber Soother
- Nuby Brites Classic Oval Pacifier
- Nuby Natural Flex Cherry Pacifier
- Nuby Natural Touch Orthodontic Pacifier and Case
- Nuby Prima Orthodontic Pacifier
- Nuk Baby Rose & Blue Silicone Orthodontic Soother
- Nuk Latex Orthodontic Soother
- Nuk Starlight Silicone Orthodontic Soother
- Philips Avent Orthodontic Soothers Classic
- Pigeon Silicone Pacifier
- The First Years Gumdrop Newborn Pacifiers
- Tommee Tippee Miomee Orthodontic Comforter
- Tommee Tippee Super Soft Comforter
- Tommee Tippee True Orthodontic Comforter
- Wubbanub Infant Pacifiers
- Raz Baby Keep-it-Kleen Pacifier
How we test
Our tester, Matthew Tung, assesses each dummy against the selection of mandatory safety clauses from the Australian Standard AS 2432:1991. Only dummies that meet these safety requirements are recommended. Some dummies fail the mandatory information requirements; however, we consider these to be minor failures and don’t affect our recommendation. He also tests the dummies against some non-mandatory clauses from the updated Australian Standard AS 2432:2009 Babies Dummies.
- Design and construction Dummies must always come with a shield, a teat, and a ring or handle. Matthew checks that each dummy has these features and complies with the certain specifications.
- Performance Matthew checks that each dummy meets requirements for strength, durability and size. The dummy shield must be a minimum size, have no sharp edges or points, and have two or more ventilation holes. The teat must be smooth and not allow fluid to leak inside or fill the teat, as bacteria can grow there. The ring or handle must be secure and be able to be gripped easily.
- Information and labelling Matthew checks the instructions, labels and markings against the requirements of the standard.