Harper Beckham causes a stir by using a dummy at 4 years old
Harper Beckham is known for being one of the most stylish celebrity tots around but one of her favourite accessories is causing a little controversy of late.
The youngest member of the Beckham clan turned four last month but she's still rather attached to her dummy. The Daily Mail took umbrage at this last week after pictures were released showing Harper walking with her dad in West Hollywood, dummy in mouth.
The Mail quoted parenting expert and former midwife Clare Byam-Cook who said the Beckhams were "putting Harper's wellbeing at risk."
"I can't believe she is still using a dummy," she said. "If she has a dummy in their (sic) mouth at this age, at four, it really can damage her teeth and it is very likely to hinder speech development. You are far less likely to speak if you have a dummy in your mouth than if your mouth is free. Many dentists will agree that dummy use at this age really is not good. After about three months, most babies should not need a comforter. Children at the age of four really don't need a dummy.
"David and Victoria seem wonderful parents and I'm sure they give Harper lots of attention but, like it or not, they are role models and lots of people will see this and think that having a dummy at this age is normal when it is not," Byam-Cook continued. "It could be last child syndrome — because she is the youngest David and Victoria could be clinging on to her being a baby."
A little harsh, perhaps, but it's not just the Daily Mail who thinks Harper Beckham is too old for a dummy. The NHS Choices website recommends parents "should avoid using dummies after 12 months of age" to prevent speech development problems and plenty of Twitter users also expressed surprise and concern over the youngest Beckham's habit.
"As much as I like Mr Beckham, to see 4 year old Harper still using a dummy is quiet (sic) disturbing #notababyanymore" posted one user, while another tweeted, "How old is Harper Beckham? I can't deal with the dummy situation!!?"
Earlier today David Beckham took the unusual step of responding to the criticism, posting on his Instagram page: "Why do people feel they have the right to criticize a parent about their own children without having any facts ?? 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 … (sic)"
Personally, as a parent, I do think having a dummy at 4 years old is a little strange. But I also know that you shouldn't judge other parents for their decisions, especially when their kids are clearly happy, healthy and well looked after. Because being a parent isn't an exact science and, no matter what the guidelines say, sometimes things just work out a little differently.
Heidi Scrimgeour, writing for the Playpennies.com blog, sums it up perfectly: "So the Beckhams aren't the quintessential perfect parents who do everything right and never take short cuts or make decisions based on what works for their kids rather than what the experts say? So what? Give them a break."