Child Care Okehampton

Bottles, Cups and Dummies Policy

Posted on Wednesday, May 6, 2015 in Our Policies

Bottles, Cups and Dummies Policy

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.


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.

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 possible.
  • Babies will never be left propped up with bottles, as this is both dangerous and does not meet their emotional needs.
  • Bottles will only be given to babies that contain milk or water.
  • We will 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.


  • 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.
  • 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 parent’s 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.
  • 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.
  • All practitioners will be trained to use the ‘Look, Listen and Think’ rule.

LOOK at the baby.  Can you see something that is making them sad.  Can you fix it?

LISTEN to their cries – you might be able to tell what they want by their different cries.

THINK about what else could help – try distracting them with a song, cuddle, favourite toy etc.

Working in Partnership

The setting will work in partnership with parents and will offer ideas and strategies to move the child on to the next stage of their development in accordance with the ‘Bottles, Cups and dummies’ document.

Links with Other Policies.

This policy takes into account our health and safety policy, ensuring that we keep children safe and healthy.  Our SEN policy and Learning and Development policy to ensure that children are able to achieve the best outcomes.

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