On Monday, David Beckham pushed back against a flimsy story recently published in The Daily Mail that criticized his parenting techniques -- particularly his daughter Harper's continued use of a dummy, known in the U.S. as a pacifier.
“Why do people feel they have the right to criticize a parent about their own children without having any facts ??” he asked. “Everybody who has children knows that when they aren't feeling well or have a fever you do what comforts them best and most of the time it's a pacifier so those who criticize think twice about what you say about other people's children because actually you have no right to criticize me as a parent …”
The Daily Mail story, which came complete with a prototypical, all-encapsulating Daily Mail-esque headline, said that “parenting experts” claimed that the Beckhams were putting Harper's “teeth at risk by letting her continue to use” a pacifier.
The story includes this worry-inducing line (emphasis ours):
The NHS Choices website recommends parents 'should avoid using dummies after 12 months of age' to prevent speech development problems.
But go to the NHS Choices webpage, which is unlinked by The Daily Mail, and you’ll find the quote is far less worry-inducing when read in context (again: emphasis ours):
Will a dummy or thumb sucking harm my child's teeth?
No, but they will encourage an open bite, which is when teeth move to make space for the dummy or thumb. They may also affect speech development. That's why you should avoid using dummies after 12 months of age.
Thumb sucking and dummies won't cause permanent problems as long as the habit stops by the time your child gets their second teeth, but it can be a hard habit to break.
Discourage your children from talking or making sounds with their thumb or a dummy in their mouth, and don't dip dummies in anything sweet, such as sugar or jam.
For those interested, the Mayo Clinic also has additional pros and cons on its website for parents deciding whether to use a pacifier. But suffice it to say there is no one correct answer. It’s just a matter of what works for the parents. Parents like the Beckhams.
Also on HuffPost: