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I feel sorry for Suri.

Byline: Miriam Stoppard

Poor Suri Cruise. For a child so young she attracts criticism whatever she does. But it's not her fault poor thing. It's down to her parents, Katie Holmes and Tom Cruise.

All this fuss about her dummy makes me want to give her a big hug. I firmly believe that babies and children must be encouraged and helped to find their own way of comforting themselves. And if that means a dummy, so be it.

I've often thought that if I could calm my nerves and go to sleep in tranquillity by sucking a dummy then I would, even at my age. What's so wrong with it? It seems to me that the strident voices of critics are harking back to Victorian times when parents could impose their will on children without concern for their emotional welfare.

As it happens, research is on my side because dummysucking babies have been shown to have a lower risk of cot death than babies who don't use pacifiers.

And as for the critics who claim that sucking a dummy may interfere with the alignment of teeth, the same applies to thumb sucking which, in my book, is also to be encouraged. The whole point is that a dummy-sucking or finger-sucking child will stop the habit themselves. As they grow up, they realise the habit is inappropriate for their age.

I strongly feel that waiting for self correction is the way that all comforting habits should be tolerated, including security blankets and teddy bears. Soon enough Suri will realise that none of her friends suck a dummy and she'll stop of her own accord.

I'm also sympathetic to thumbsucking continuing for however long the child wishes to indulge, in private or at home. Two of my sons continued well into their teens and a very together niece sucked her thumb until she was 27.

Dentists can be relied upon to give advice that sucking a thumb, finger or dummy will misalign teeth but if this were to happen it could be corrected by the same dentist with a brace.

Other holier-than-thou parents claim these comfort habits will interfere with learning to talk but I don't believe it.

The one aspect of Suri's life that does bother me is on the one hand she's being encouraged to grow up, and in a rather unhealthy way, with high heels and make-up. But on the other she's being encouraged to stay a baby.

This must be sending mixed messages.
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Apr 4, 2011
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