LONDON • David Beckham has hit back at criticism of his four-year- old daughter's use of a pacifier.
The former England footballer responded in a post on Instagram after an article in the Daily Mail claimed that "parenting experts" had warned that the use of a pacifier risked stunting the child's speech and that her parents were putting her teeth at risk of damage.
He posted a screenshot of the article on his Instagram page to his 10.1 million followers, accompanied with a message indicating his daughter had been unwell.
It read: "Why do people feel they have the right to criticise 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 criticise, think twice about what you say about other people's children because actually you have no right to criticise me as a parent..."
An expert quoted in the Mail article said the use of the pacifier could mean that Harper, the Beckhams' fourth child, could encounter a number of possible issues.
The article quoted nurse and midwife Clare Byam-Cook as saying: "I can't believe she is still using a dummy. If she has a dummy in her mouth at this age, at four, it really can damage her teeth and it is very likely to hinder speech development."
Beckham's Instagram post had been liked more than 404,000 times by Monday evening and attracted more than 12,000 comments, including a large degree of support for his stance.
"If it's not harming the child, then why does it matter? Lots of children suck their thumb, till they are a lot older and some never stop," read one.
Another added: "Yes! Love this @davidbeckham, I can't imagine how hard it is for you seeing headlines like that written by people who don't know you or have a clue about your life."