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Thumb Sucking and Pacifier User

Baby sucking his thumb

Thumb sucking and pacifiers provide natural relaxation and soothing to babies. Children actual begin sucking their thumbs in their wombs. These techniques make them feel content and secure while they learn about the big world around them. Although totally natural and normal, thumb sucking and pacifier use can become problematic when it becomes a habit.

Advantages of Thumb Sucking

In addition to calming your baby, thumb sucking also allows your baby to practice the natural sucking motion needed to latch onto a breast when breastfeeding. This is quite different when compared to pacifiers, which studies have shown can lead to early weaning. Thumb sucking also can help children build immunity to allergens like dust mites.

Advantages of Pacifier Use

Pacifiers have been shown to help reduce the incidences of SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome). They also can help soothe a fussy baby, provide entertainment, and help the baby to fall asleep. Pacifiers are also easier to keep clean and can be sanitized by being run through the dishwasher or dropped in boiling water. Many are made from materials that are antimicrobial.

When is thumb sucking and pacifier use a problem?

Thumb sucking and pacifier user becomes problematic when a child sucks intensely from ages 4-6. Children tend to naturally wean themselves from thumb sucking and pacifier use around age 3. When this doesn’t occur, many problem can pop up. This is because the jaw is developing quite rapidly and the intense sucking action can disrupt jaw formation, tooth alignment, and even cause speech problems.

Help Break the Habit

Weaning a child from a pacifier can be done by slowly eliminating it from their routine. If, for example, your child is used to have the pacifier at all time, start by taking it away for a couple of hours. As you work your way down you’ll then transition to giving them the pacifier at bedtime and nap time. Now, depending on your child’s personality cold turkey might be best. Talk to their doctor to discuss what might be the best choice.

Breaking the thumb sucking habit is a little more difficult, because the child is physically attached to the item that soothes them. Most experts agree that breaking a child’s thumb sucking is best done by giving them comfort and attention. After all, thumb sucking is a child’s own way of soothing and comforting themselves. If they already feel comfortable and secure, getting them to break the habit could be a little easier.

If you have questions about pacifier use or thumb sucking, contact us. We can answer your questions, help establish a plan to break the habit for your child, and check your child’s mouth to check if any damage has been done.

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