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.

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