For babies, to suck 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 is thumbsucking. It is easier to take away a pacifier then a finger or thumb. Thumbsuckers typically continue the habit until 3-5 years.
Thoughts on Pacifiers
- if you notice your child beginning to suck their fingers or thumbs, during the first 3 months of life, you can introduce 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 soother 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. The child could suck a "ripped" pacifier and choke on it
- do not hang the pacifier around your baby's neck with a string. Your baby could be accidentally strangled
Choosing a Pacifier
- to avoid improper breathing and abnormal molding of the baby's jaws, choose a soother 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 soother
- strength of sucking action
- length of time the soother is present within the mouth
If you have any questions or concerns about pacifiers, talk to your dentist.