For babies, sucking is very natural. It is how they nourish and soothe themselves. When a baby is not eating, the pacifier is better to use for soothing than a finger, thumb, or a toy.
Pacifiers are less likely to cause a malocclusion and are usually discontinued at an earlier age than thumbsucking. It is easier to take away a pacifier than to discourage using a finger or thumb. Thumbsuckers typically continue the habit until 3-5 years of age.
Thoughts on Pacifiers
- If you notice your child beginning to suck their fingers or thumbs during the first 3 months of life, consider introducing your child to a pacifier.
- To avoid any trauma to the gums, it’s important to buy a pacifier with a nipple made of rubber
- Do not use the pacifier around the clock, only when necessary
- In rare instances, pacifiers may cause complications like abnormal swallowing patterns
- Check the pacifier daily for breakage. They do not last forever and should be replaced when wear or damage is noticed. A damaged pacifier can cause choking.
- Do not hang the pacifier around your baby’s neck with a string. This practice is dangerous and can cause strangulation.
Choosing a Pacifier
- Avoid improper breathing and abnormal molding of the baby’s jaws by choosing a pacifier that resembles the natural nipple and breast.
Pacifier use can cause abnormal development of the jaws and teeth. Some reasons are:
- Improperly sized and shaped pacifier
- Strength of sucking action
- Length of time the pacifier is present within the mouth