Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The suck spot

So, your child isn't taking the dummy? needing some time off the breast?
Here's some of the tips I have come across in practice to make you understand why it takes time for the child to understand how to take the dummy - and plus how you can help.

Firstly it is important to know how the 'suck cycle' works.

This is different in bottle feeding and breastfeeding.
  • Bottle feeding sucking requires the use of the tongue being thrusted up and forward to control the milk flow.
  • Breast feeding requires the use of the lips, tongue, gums, cheeks, and hard and soft palates. This is classed as 'suckling'.
  • Breastfeeding: Typically the initial presentation of the nipple to the child's mouth/side of cheek, stimulates the rooting reflex which allows the child to open the mouth wide and enable the head to arch back.
  • The tongue then thrusts forward to pull the nipple into the mouth (N.B. this stage is important, I'll refer back to it later).
  • The contact of the nipple of the bridge between the hard palate and the soft palate, stimulates the 'suck spot'. This spot then stimulates the child to initiate suckling.
  • The tongue then begins it's rhythmic contractions forcing milk through the nipple and guiding it to the back to mouth to be swallowed. At the same time the cheeks are contracting and creating the negative pressure to bring the milk through.
So, as we know, it is easier for a child to bottle feed, and the technique is completely different to that of breastfeeding. That's why I always say that it is imperative that you firstly get the child used to breastfeeding and get the technique in-grained in the brain, before even trying something else like the dummy. (I usually say about 1-2 weeks after birth).

So you want to know how to get the child to take the dummy?

  1. First rule of thumb, be patient.
If you have a bottle feeding baby on your hands, this should be easier...
If the child is a breast feeder, this make take a little longer. Requiring a few practice rounds.

  1. Begin with stimulating the child's rooting reflex by gently stroking the outside of the cheek, this should initiate the opening of the mouth.
  2. Insert dummy.
  3. Then, hold the dummy in the mouth - if the child is a breastfeeder the initial response is to thrust the tongue forward (which will knock the dummy out), if this happens, push the dummy back in the mouth again. (recognise what i said earlier?: the breastfeeding technique is to bring the tongue forward to pull the nipple in). Of course the nipple (dummy) in this case is already in the mouth, so let the child run through her/his routine anyway.
  4. Eventually, the tongue will no longer be thrust forward and the dummy will stay in the mouth.
  5. Then, hold the dummy gently up in the roof of the palate. This stimulates that 'suck spot'.
  6. This should stimulate the child to begin the suck cycle.

SO the tips are: hold the dummy gently in the mouth, and hold it up onto the roof of the mouth.

If the child is crying, don't make it a horrible experience, try this out when the child is in the relaxed state.

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