Pacifiers and Sucking Habits
Sucking is a natural reflex for infants. It makes them feel safe and happy and provide a sense of security. And since it is relaxing, it can help induce sleep. But the problem exists when pacifier or thumb sucking persists beyond the first few years. If your child continues to use their thumb or pacifier beyond age four, they can develop crooked teeth, malformed jaws, and potential speech problems. The frequency, duration, and intensity will determine whether or not problems will form.
Here are some helpful hints on breaking the habit:
- Praise them when they are not sucking
- Children often suck when insecure; Focus on correcting the cause of anxiety, instead of the thumb sucking
- Reward them when they refrain from sucking during difficult periods, like when they are separated from you
- Wait until the time is right (low stress time for them)
- At your dental visit, the dentist can encourage the child to stop sucking and explain what could happen when they continue