When it comes to Babies and Pacifiers

Posted on July 30, 2020 | Hot Topics

When it comes to Babies and Pacifiers

Many parents find themselves wondering…To use a pacifier or not? Should we prevent our infant from sucking their fingers? Should we use a pacifier? Are pacifiers better than fingers? When should my child stop their sucking habit?

There are natural instincts when it comes to non-nutritive sucking (finger and pacifier sucking) in infants. Some expectant parents have even seen their babies sucking their thumb on ultrasound! Pacifier and thumb sucking are effective methods for infants to self soothe, which is important for both the baby and the parent. There are a few things to keep in mind to ensure optimal oral health for your child, as it relates to finger and pacifier use.

Duration, Frequency, and Intensity of the Habit

These three factors are important in determining if we will see changes in the position of the teeth, and shape of the palate. Some children just need to suck a pacifier to fall asleep, and then it falls out of their mouth for the remainder of the night. This is more favorable than intense sucking throughout the night. Attempting to reduce the duration, frequency, and intensity of the habit will help prevent potential orthodontic issues.

The Age of the Child

The age of your child when they stop sucking a finger or pacifier is an important factor that we consider when we determine if there will be longer lasting effects, such as changes in the position of the teeth and shape of the palate. Pacifiers are typically an easier habit to break than fingers. Your pediatric dentist can give helpful tips for cessation of both pacifier and finger sucking. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that non-nutritive sucking be stopped by about age three.

General Best Practices

If your child uses a pacifier, there are some safety considerations to keep in mind. Never dip the pacifier in anything sweet before giving it to baby. Discontinue the use of the pacifier if the child can fit the entire pacifier in his or her mouth. Inspect the pacifier for signs of wear or deterioration, and discard if it has become cracked or sticky.

If you have any questions or concerns about your child’s pacifier or finger habit, or about general oral health, reach out to a pediatric dentist. There are several age appropriate tips and tricks for addressing sucking habits. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that a child has their first dental visit by age 1.

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