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Is it a social class thing? Snobbery or Common as muck

170 replies

wondergirl · 11/07/2004 22:26

Hi people.

Please give your opinion on this that follows matter, particularly if you are not from the areas mentioned in this discussion, as myself and many others would like to get a wider opinion. I hope no one will be affended by the content of this discussion. I have not stated any of the strong opinons against dummy use that were given during the questionnaires, to limit any offence.

A couple of months ago, I participated in a class project as part of my A-level sociology combined psychology, which looked at the use of children's comfort items and societies view/opinion of them.
My group within the class was allocated the task of looking at the use of dummies/soothers. Other groups within the class looked at other comfort objects like beakers, favourite toy, babies bottle, security blanket etc.
As an whole the class research showed very interesting results, but it was the DUMMY issue that generated most discussion.
It seemed almost everyone (parents and none parents) surveyed had an opinion on dummies being used as comfort items, more so than any other comfort item.


Our group carried out a questionaire for one day in each of the following town/city centres; Leamington Spa, Nuneaton, Coventry and Sutton Coldfield (All midlands based).
On average, we surveyed about 100 individuals of all ages and sexes from each location.
When the results from all locations were collated thses were the main findings:

67% of people surveyed thought children with dummies in public looked common.

70% of this 67% were themselves not parents (if this is of any interest).

87% thought children allowed to have dummies beyond the age of three or four years old in public not only looked awful, but also suggested poor parenting.

95% thought dummies/soothers used with babies was perfectly fine, but not with toddlers.

59% thought dummies are used more for the parents convienience rather than the childs.

Of the 59% above with this opinion, 76% claimed they felt dummy use was more commonly seen with single mums, with a few kids in tow where dummies are dished out for a quite life, instead of attention.

47% said they associated dummy use more with lower class than middle and upper class parents.

92% with this opinion above were not themselves parents.

I do not know about you lot reading this, but at the time I found these findings rather shocking, I never knew people were so hung-up with a little piece a plastic and rubber called a dummy, that a child sucks on for comfort!!!!!

With regards to these findings, my group and the rest of the class were particularly interseted in why so many people thought dummies were vile and common, and why they associted them with less financially well off families!

Our group tried to find out if there was any real grounds to support this class divide concerning dummy use.
Our group split up and spent a whole day at three different locations to monitor the freqeuncy of observations for children with dummies.
(I will not disclose the locations used for this monioring, as I do not wish to affend anyone).

At each location we tryed to record the total amount of children with and without dummies (told you they were crude measures). Additional to this we trawled round each location collecting dummies off the floor (the ones you see lying around that get lost by kids).

It seems this crude monitoring kind of supports this opnion about dummy use being higher in lower class society when compared to upper class.

This time the general findings were:

It was observed that there was definately more kids with dummies at the designated lower class location compared to middle and upper class locations.

It was also observed at the lower class location that the ratio of children to parent/caregiver was higher than the other locations.

Children up to the age of 4 or 5 (estimation) were commonly seen with dummies at the designated lower class site, but virtually absent from the other locations used.

The total number of lost dummies found at the end of the day at each location was; lower-class 27, middle-class 9 and upper-class 2.

So after all this, what is my humble opinion on the matter?

Well I myself am not happy about dummies being associated with common families, as I myself had a dummy when I was a child, and today many of my friends and family use dummies with thier children, and I would regard them as being far from common as muck.
Its obvious from this kind of research and general postings on the issue on web-sites like this one, that it is dummy use with older children in public that is frowned upon most, and given that more older children from lower-class families are seen with dummies increases this class divide over dummies.
I myself hate to see children in public over 3 and 4 years old with a dummy, as it does look awful, but I do not think the parents are common or poorer caregivers than parents of dummy-less children.
Unfortunately most things in life get abused and I feel dummies are certainly one them.
Dummies if used correctly are good for both the childs and parents physical and mental well-being, but if abused it can turn into a vulgare and disgusting habit, which most society seems unable to tollerate.


OP posts:
tigermoth · 15/07/2004 11:09

wow nightowl, giving up the dummy and the inlaws in one fell swoop. Blimey, dummies seem to symbolise so much for some people!

tigermoth · 15/07/2004 11:09

talking about your silly inlaws here, btw, not you!

Canadianmom · 16/07/2004 12:39

Guess I must confess to being a middle-class snob-wanna-be. I have no clue why but I really HATE dummies (esp. for walking-talking beings.) I have this perception that dummies are far too overused and I think that what makes me feel uncomfortable about them is that it is a 'parent-chosen' comfort. ie when the baby cries the parents plug-them-in to shut them up... Basically, I would sooner have my baby find comfort in my arms than in a push-chair with a dummy in his/her mouth.
Having re-read this, I am feeling rather embarrassed about my feelings but they are there whether I acknowledge them or not...I will try to be more accepting of other people's choices as they clearly have no affect on my life or the lives of my children.
(I do have 3 children and have never owned a dummy.)

tallulah · 16/07/2004 21:00

I feel absolutely revolted at the thought/sight of dummies, & none of my 4 ever had one. I think it's an attitude that I got from my family because I know neither me nor my bro had one, none of my cousins did & when I had DD my aunt actually said to me "I hope you aren't thinking about using a dummy" the first time she saw the baby!

eddm · 16/07/2004 21:48

PPH I think the upper classes don't care about dummies because all that sort of thing is left to nanny. As long as the son and heir doesn't use one when he's brought to the drawing room for half an hour after nursery tea, that's OK .

aloha · 16/07/2004 22:15

Well, Jemima Kahn's kids had dummies, and I think she's reasonable posh. Glad to know my son would have revolted everyone. I imagine that your kids are repulsive little freaks that frighted the horses and would probably have looked better with as much of their faces obscured as possiblepart of their faces obscured. SO glad I don't know, you sound vile and judgemental. Mind you, I don't suppose you realise that dummies reduce the risk of cot death by more than half, so in fact, I care about my son and take more care of him that you do.

aloha · 16/07/2004 22:17

Eddm, that is ONE study, I can post you a million that say otherwise. It's official advice in other countries.
I know most of you don't post deliberatly offensive stuff about dummies, but it does piss me off. What's the matter with you?

codswallop · 16/07/2004 22:28

"Do dummies reduce the risk of cot death?
If your baby is using a dummy regularly, carry on. Babies who usually use a dummy but then stop are at an increased risk of cot death. However we do not recommend dummies to reduce the risk of cot death."

from sids

aloha · 16/07/2004 22:34

Which advise is IMO totally irresponsible and ignore all the major studies into pacifier use and SIDS - probably because of sheer snobbery. I just think, if you think the way your kid looks matters more to you than their health, well, that's your opinion.

Pacifiers and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome

Currently, four research teams have published studies showing an association between pacifier use and a reduced risk of SIDS. The best available evidence comes from case control studies that examined the sleep positions and sleep environments of infants, including the use of pacifiers, with parental interviews or questionnaires. There are no studies showing an increased risk.
Mitchell et al (20) from New Zealand compared 485 deaths due to SIDS with 1800 control infants. They report that pacifier use was significantly less in cases than in controls (OR 0.44, 95% CI 0.26-0.73). This observation was made even before their National Cot Death Prevention Campaign began in 1992.
Arnestad et al (21) from Norway reviewed 121 SIDS deaths and found only 10% ?always used? a pacifier, compared with 24% of controls. They conclude that the use of a pacifier could be a favourable factor in preventing SIDS.
In 1998, L?Hoir et al (22) in the Netherlands reported 12% of cases versus 48% of controls used a pacifier (OR 0.19). Their conclusions state that pacifiers should be recommended, at least for bottle-fed babies.
Fleming et al (23) from the United Kingdom undertook a three-year case control study as part of the large population based Confidential Enquiry into Stillbirths and Deaths in Infancy study. They found no difference between cases and controls in routine use of a pacifier. However, fewer SIDS infants used a pacifier for their last sleep than did controls for their reference sleep (OR 0.62, 95% CI 0.46-0.83). This led to the suggestion that only those babies who routinely use a pacifier but who do not do so for their last sleep are at higher risk for SIDS.
The Chicago Infant Mortality Study (24) examined the sleep environment in 260 SIDS deaths within a primarily black, urban population to help reduce the incidence in this high-risk group. They found the use of a pacifier substantially lowered the risk of SIDS in their sample population (OR 0.3).
There are many theories on how pacifiers might be protective in the sleep environment. This is also of interest to those speculating on the exact mechanism of SIDS (37), since its incidence dropped dramatically after the Back-to-Sleep campaign in Canada and similar campaigns abroad. One recent study suggests that pacifiers lower the auditory arousal threshold (38). They may provide a mechanical barrier to rolling over into the prone position. Sucking on a pacifier keeps the tongue forward maintaining upper airway patency. An infant who is soothed by a pacifier may not move as often during sleep, thus limiting the chance of becoming covered by blankets. Others postulate that pacifiers might reduce gastroesophageal reflux and subsequent apnea. It has also been suggested that pacifier use could lead to slight carbon dioxide retention and increase the respiratory drive

popsycal · 16/07/2004 22:52

Just found this thread

I had my dummy on an evening until I was 7

I must be as common as muck, mustn't i??

popsycal · 16/07/2004 22:55

That killed the thread didn't it.

I have to say though, I am with aloha on this one

emkana · 16/07/2004 22:59

aloha -
just wanted to post my support for you here, as you did so eloquently and kindly on the b/feeding thread! I'm sure you know now how it makes me feel when people go on about how 'yukky', 'gross' and 'abusive' (! still can't get over that one) extended b/feeding is supposed to be. I feel that dummy use and extended b/feeding actually have parallels in so far as certain needs of babies/children (ie the need to suck!) are often ignored in our society because it's not 'done', or supposedly 'wrong'. Very judgemental and saddening, IMO!

SoupDragon · 16/07/2004 23:04

"Which advise is IMO totally irresponsible and ignore all the major studies into pacifier use and SIDS - probably because of sheer snobbery. I just think, if you think the way your kid looks matters more to you than their health, well, that's your opinion."

So... because I didn't give my children dummies as babies I'm a snob and care more about how they look than their health??

eddm · 16/07/2004 23:05

Hey Aloha, I just posted the link to FSIDS because I happened to find their advice on dummies ... not sure why you got so angry about it? My post with the link wasn't offensive in any way, it was just offering information from a reputable charity that sponsor research and I don't see what's wrong with that. You may disagree but that's no reason to have a go at me. What am I supposed to do, check with you first and suppress anything that you don't like?

Fio2 · 16/07/2004 23:06

you lot are fucking nuts!

misdee · 16/07/2004 23:08

this has gotton way out of hand!!!

Fio2 · 16/07/2004 23:08

soz that was my dh!

zebra · 16/07/2004 23:10

I refused to have a dummy to my mother's considerable dismay...
Even though she would describe herself as upper middle class, would have gone bankrupt before she gave up her objets de art, etc.
And yet I am just about the scruffiest person I know!
Oh well, I think that kills that theory.

eddm · 16/07/2004 23:10

And I don't think posting that you care more about your son and take better care of him than anyone else is in the spirit of MN. Your posts are normally intelligent, fascinating and well-reasoned ... don't think I've ever disgreed with you before (and I don't think I actually disagree with you here, dummy use is fine by me) but quite scared if this is the reaction I get.

SoupDragon · 16/07/2004 23:11

Nah - must be Shabby Chic, Zebra

Angeliz · 16/07/2004 23:14

Fio, i thought that was a bit naughty for you
(You're usually the one saying 'calm down'

SoupDragon · 16/07/2004 23:15

Actually, I'm aghast at the "I care about my son and take more care of him that you do" comment. So people who dont give their child a dummy care less about their children than those who do?? Well, yes, maybe I should have forced one on either of my DSs and ignored the screams of disgust if it would have made me a better parent.

ScummyMummy · 16/07/2004 23:36

Awww- calm down guys. If anyone here thinks that your boy is less than gorgeous and brilliantly cared for they must be bonkers, aloha. Likewise soupy, my lovely pasta jar inspiration- was telling my partner about that today and he was dead impressed. Down with the dummy debate, say I.

And as for you Ms Fio- I can tell you from bitter experience that it is generally fatal to let dhs anywhere near mumsnet...

tamum · 16/07/2004 23:43

I think that post of aloha's was amongst the most unpleasant I have read on mumsnet.

There are indeed several (though hardly millions) of studies showing an association between using dummies and reduced risk of cot death but all the ones I've read (more recent ones) stress that this is an association and not causative i.e. use of a dummy could occur in conjunction with something else that is actually protective. I have never seen a shred of actual evidence that they are protective. I imagine that it what FSID are basing their advice on. To call them irresponsible is insulting. They take advice from a scientific advisory board, not from journalists.

I find the idea that anyone would choose to use a dummy for that reason alone pretty ludicrous. How may people do you know who say "no, he wasn't a sucky baby, and I hate the way dummies look, but it protects against cot death so it's irresponsible not to use one"?

Hulababy · 16/07/2004 23:50

Come on all; remember why we post on Mumsnet please and the overall rules of Talk. Advice and support, not insults surely. Fair enough if youu don't agree - but just leave it. Why is it so necessary for some of you to resort to insults and nastiness? Makes me so sad This isn't why I came to Mumsnet

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