GP FAQ speech, tongue ties, dummies and lisps

Speech and dummies

Are dummies recommended?

While many infants use them without problems, speech and language therapists (SALT) do not advocate the use of dummies because it stops babies from communicating as easily. Dummies also move the tongue to the back of the mouth which can affect development and articulation of specific aspects of speech. It can be useful to suggest to parents that they stop using dummies by their child’s first birthday to give them a target.

How to access SALT for speech difficulties:

If parents are concerned about speech development it may be appropriate to refer to SALT.

If a child is over 5 years old, it is best to access SALT via school, if under 5 years old, pathways vary locally; health visitors can facilitate referral.  Many children’s centres have a drop in service every 4-6 weeks.

Tongue tie

Does tongue tie require intervention?

Most problematic tongue ties present in the neonatal period with breastfeeding difficulties. If presenting later, it is unlikely to cause a major issue, however there are some things to consider, is the child’s speech developing as expected and are they eating normally with good dental hygiene? If they are not, then a referral to speech and language therapy is warranted.


Is the lisp having an impact on the clarity of the child’s communication?

For children under 4 who have a lisp that is affecting their communication, consider whether they have the skills and attention to benefit from SALT, it might be worth discussing the case with the relevant team prior to referral. Generally, once a child is 4 years old they are able to benefit from SALT input.