Everything That You Need to Know About Thumbsucking and Pacifiers

Self soothing is a very important skill for your baby to learn. One of the easiest ways for your baby to self soothe, is with a sucking motion with their mouth. This is most commonly accomplished with the help of either a pacifier, or sucking on their thumb. Many parents worry that allowing their children to become attached to thumb sucking or a pacifier will affect their child’s development, especially concerning their oral health.

Effects of pacifiers


Prolonged use of a pacifier has been shown to cause negative effects on a child’s mouth. These issues include the upper teeth becoming crooked and pushed forward, as well as incorrect jaw development. These effects are the same with chronic thumbsuckers. These negative effects are most often seen when a child continues to use a pacifier or suck on their thumb past the age of two. The worst cases are seen in children who continue use of a pacifier past four years of age.


Benefits of pacifiers


Pacifiers are still beneficial to babies, however. They’ve been shown to lower to risk of SIDS in baby’s, which is a good reason to introduce a pacifier to a baby. In fact, there are relatively positive influences when a child uses a pacifier between the ages of 6 months and one year. The AAFP recommend that you wean your child from their pacifier by the time that they are two years old, to prevent complications and issues with their oral health.


Thumbs vs pacifiers


There are benefits to the baby to suck on their thumb rather than a pacifier, such as ease of access. However, if a child begins developing a thumb sucking habit, it’s recommended to try and divert that to a pacifier instead. This is because, when it comes time to wean your child from this habit, it’s much easier to prevent them from sucking on a pacifier than it is to stop sucking on their thumb. As long as the use of a pacifier is not prolonged, you shouldn’t see any development of pacifier teeth or other negative effects.

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