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Latex vs silicone

Baby with NUK soother

By Burgie Ireland RN RM SANC

You’re ticking off the boxes on your to-do list before ‘baby-day’ – or maybe you’re sending your partner off to buy a few bottles and teats, and he wants to know what’s best to buy. Breastfeeding may be tops on your agenda, but right now, you have a screaming baby, or just to be safe, you want to have a few bottles and dummies on standby. So here you are, standing in the store, bewildered by the wide choice that’s available. Sizes and shapes aside, do you go for traditional brown/yellow natural latex, or should you choose modern, synthetic, clear and clean-looking silicone? What’s the difference, and what are the benefits of each?

Remember that once your baby has been introduced to a particular dummy or teat, these will need to be replaced every 4 – 6 weeks, with the same type and make. If there’s a known family allergy to latex, you should choose silicone.

Pros and cons of latex:

Latex is natural rubber. Dummies and teats look the way we remember them – yellowish-brown.  They’re soft and pliable which means that they’re more likely to feel comfortable in baby’s mouth – much like mom’s nipple. They may have a rubbery taste that baby needs to get used to. They wear easily, are affected by the air, saliva, UV light and heat. Sterilising is simply pouring boiling water over them and leaving for five minutes.

Pros and cons of silicone:

Silicone is a clear, modern, synthetic, odourless and tasteless material that’s used in many medical devices today. It looks clean and hygienic and is BPA (an industrial chemical used to make plastics), PVC (synthetic plastic) and phthalates (used to make plastic more durable) free. Silicone is firm more likely to keep its shape. It can also tolerate high temperatures for sterilising. 

Looking after teats and dummies:

Irrespective of which type of dummy or teat you choose, it’s important to look after these, making sure they don’t perish unnecessarily, and are carefully sterilised – especially when your baby is younger than six months.

  • Thoroughly clean teats with hot, soapy water
  • Use specially designed brushes to clean ridges and holes
  • Pour freshly boiled water over teats and dummies and leave for five minutes. Alternatively use a sterilising liquid unit according to instructions. Make sure the container and fluid are changed daily. Note that steam sterilising is gentler on your feeding products and more advisable than harsh sterilising liquids.
  • Use an electric steam steriliser to gently steam products.
  • If you prefer microwaving, never put the teats and dummies directly into the microwave oven. It won’t sterilise these properly and will even damage them. You need to use a microwave sterilising unit. NUK soothers come in a handy container suitable for steam sterilising or storage.

If this all sounds overwhelming, just remember that dummies and teats have been used for eons, and they can save your sanity! Apparently, the oldest known dummy was found on a 3,000-year-old archaeological site in Italy. Over the years, materials and designs have been perfected so that today’s babies are able to enjoy the very best. The very best they deserve.

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