It’s perfectly normal for a baby to suck on a pacifier or his/her finger; sucking helps to soothe them and can prevent SIDS. But when is it time for a baby to be weaned off of their pacifier? The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that children should discontinue pacifier use after age 3. If pacifier use is continued after age 3, children should see the dentist to have a professional evaluation in order to prevent long-term oral problems, like tooth misalignment.
Start at around 24 months (2 years) to wean your child from his or her pacifier. You can do this in many different ways. Take a look at some of the suggestions from Delta Dental!
- Limit pacifier use to nap time, before bed, and stressful or painful times, i.e. a checkup with shots.
- Tell your child you can send their pacifier to the tooth fairy in exchange for a present. Swapping a pacifier for a special toy may work for older children.
- Praise and reward your child for not using their pacifier. Don’t tease or punish your child.
If you have to choose between sucking a thumb or a pacifier, the better choice would be the pacifier. A child who becomes dependent on either thing is likely to quit when they reach school age because of peer pressure. If thumb sucking lasts beyond ages 6-8, long-lasting consequences may occur. It can alter the shape of your child’s mouth and the position of their emerging permanent teeth. This can be costly down the road.
For more information from Delta Dental, click here!