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Bottles, Cups & Dummies Policy


It is our aim to work with parents to ensure that the children in our care receive the best outcomes.  This policy is designed to support parents on the best way to use bottles, cups and dummies with their children.  It focuses on the importance of good practice in supporting children to move on to open cups and give up dummies at the right time to ensure that children’s speech and language development is not hindered.  The links between ear infections, speech development difficulties and dental decay due to the inappropriate use of bottles and dummies is quite sobering when considered in conjunction with the impact that poor overall communication development has on children’s life chances and futures.

With increasing understanding of the impact of bottles, cups and dummies on children’s development it is key that early year’s settings consider their role in promoting their good use and how a policy would support the in practice.  Although it is not statutory for settings to have such a policy, we believe we have a professional responsibility to provide care based on evidence and best practice.  

The research that is available, along with considerable feedback from speech and language, dentistry and dietetic professionals, highlights that the use of bottles, cups and dummies can have a direct impact on children’s oral health, speech and language skills and even general health.

Here at Bijou nursery we recognise and understand that a dummy can be a source of comfort for a child who is settling and/or upset, and that it may often form part of a child’s sleep routine. As babies get older, they need to learn to move their mouths in different ways, to smile, to blow bubbles, to make sounds, to chew food and eventually to talk. 

As babies move their mouths and experiment with babbling sounds and movement, they are learning to make the quick mouth movements needed for speech. The more practice they get the better their awareness of their mouths and the better their speech will be. 

The overuse of a dummy may restrict these movements from taking place and therefore effect a child language development. 

The nursery aims to: 

  • Discuss the use of dummies with parents as part of baby’s individual care plans 

  • Only allow dummies if a child is really upset for comfort (for example if there is problems at home, they are new to the setting) and/or as part of their sleep routine as requested by parents

  • Store dummies in individual child’s bag or belongings. If a dummy or bottle falls on the floor or is picked up by another child, this is cleaned immediately and sterilised where necessary.




When discouraging the dummy staff will:


  • Have a designated place for the dummies to be stored, which the child will be aware of 

  • Comfort the child and if age/stage appropriate explain why they are not allowed the dummy in a sensitive and appropriate manner. 

  • Distract children’s attention with other activities and ensure they are settled before leaving them to play. 

  • Offer other methods of comfort such as toy, teddy or blanket.

  • Explain to the child they can have their dummy when they get home or at bed time. We will also offer support and advice to parents to discourage dummy use during waking hours at home and suggest ways to wean in which the child can be weaned off their dummy (when appropriate).

  • Offer useful information on effects of dummies and bottle usage in children to help advise and useful tips.




Best Practice



  • Babies who are bottle fed will be held and have warm physical contact with their key person while being fed.  This key person will feed them whenever routine for the child.

  • Babies will never be left propped up with bottles, as this is both dangerous and does not meet their emotional needs as well physical danger such as choking.

  • Bottles will only be given to babies that contain milk or water.

  • We will be recommended that babies and young children do not ‘feed to sleep’.  To reiterate parents / carers should not use a bottle to settle their child down to sleep.

  • We will recommend that from 12 months, bottle use is reduced with the aim of making a complete withdrawal as soon as possible after this and encouraging the use of a cup within the setting and encourage to be used at home.

  • Bottle provided by parent’s will be washed and replaced in bag for sterilizing and bottles kept on setting premises will be sterilised before and after use and washed in hot water and labelled with child’s name before feeding the child and staff to be extra cautious regarding children with milk allergies within the setting as precaution.



  • Babies will be given the opportunity to drink from a cup from weaning at 6 months or when they can sit up unsupported and hold something on their own.

  • Babies can be weaned immediately to an open cup with small amounts of liquid to reduce the risk of spills as well as plenty of help and patience from the adults around them.

  • The setting will offer sip cups, but these will be unvalved so that children do not have to suck hard to access the drink.

  • Babies will be given plenty of opportunity to play with empty cups so that they can explore and get use to holding them such as water and sand play.

  • Practitioners will be very calm and patient when given babies drinks and will mop up any spills without comment.

  • Practitioners will support and promote children’s wellbeing by giving lots of praise.



  • We will recommend that from six months dummy use is reduced with the aim of moving on completely from 12 months

  • If using a dummy, we as professionals will recommend that parents choose an orthodontic dummy as the shape of the teat causes less damage to teeth.

  • A dummy will only be used within the setting for sleep / nap times or to soothe when upset and will try to be removed from the child when settled and replaced with belongings.

  • Practitioners will build relationships with their key children and will learn to tune into their babies cries to understand what they need.

  • Practitioners will attempt to find alternative ways of soothing / distracting the baby, using a dummy as a final resort.

  • For babies up to 6 months, dummies will be clean and sterilised.  After 6 months they will be thoroughly cleaned.

  • All dummies are to be stored in labelled, clean, individual containers, not plastic bags if kept at the setting and sterilised and replaced as soon as possible.

  • All practitioners will be trained to use the ‘Look, Listen and Think’ rule such as looking what is the matter with the child, listening to what the child wants or needs and think about what the child needs such as do they need a dummy or can child be distracted by toys or activities to discourage dummy use.

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