Does your child suck their thumb or use a pacifier? Here, we’ll explain the effects of thumbsucking and pacifiers, and how to encourage your child to stop when the time is right.
Why Do Children Suck Their Thumbs or Want to Use Pacifiers?
Children and babies have a natural inclination to suck on something to make themselves feel more relaxed and calm. Many babies and children suck their thumb or use a pacifier to self-soothe or help them fall asleep. Most children stop this habit between ages two and four.
What Are the Effects of Thumbsucking & Pacifiers?
For very young kids, thumbsucking and pacifier use is OK. We recommend starting to limit thumbsucking and pacifier use around ages two and three. If your child continues to suck their thumb or desire a pacifier beyond age four, it may be a sign of chronic emotional distress so be sure to consult with your pediatrician.
If your child’s thumbsucking habit persists beyond four years old, they can develop dental health issues. This is particularly true once your child’s adult teeth begin coming in. During this time, a thumb or pacifier can create alignment issues due to abnormal pressure on your child’s teeth and jaw, resulting in your child possibly needing a lot of orthodontic correction. Additionally, the roof of the mouth could become more sensitive and your child could even develop a lisp or other speech impediment. Prolonged sucking on a pacifier can even lead to middle-ear infections. However, the degree to which these effects occur really depends on how aggressively your child sucks their thumb or uses a pacifier. The more vigorously your child sucks their fingers, the more likely they will experience negative dental effects.
How Can I Encourage My Child to Stop Sucking Their Thumb or a Pacifier?
To get your child to stop sucking their thumb or using a pacifier, it’s important to always praise them for not sucking on their thumb or a pacifier. This positive reinforcement will help them feel good about not relying on thumbsucking or a pacifier. Never punish them for sucking their fingers or using a pacifier. If your child sucks their thumb or wants a pacifier when they are feeling uncomfortable or insecure, focus on helping your child solve the issue and develop other coping mechanisms when they are upset. As much as possible, involve your child in deciding how to go about stopping to encourage a sense of ownership and responsibility. This will give them a boost of confidence to overcome their desire to suck their thumb or pacifier to self-soothe.
More Questions? We Have Answers!
If you have any other questions about thumbsucking or pacifier use, contact us today.Contact Us