For babies, sucking 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 thumb sucking. It is easier to take away a pacifier than to discourage using a finger or thumb. Thumb suckers typically continue the habit until 3-5 years of age.

If you notice your child beginning to suck their fingers or thumbs during the first 3 months of life, consider introducing him or her to a pacifier.  Here are a few recommendations on how to use pacifiers:

  • To avoid any trauma to the gums, it’s important to buy a pacifier with a nipple made of rubber
  • Do not use the pacifier 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 and should be replaced when wear or damage is noticed. A damaged pacifier can cause choking.
  • Do not hang the pacifier around your baby’s neck with a string. This practice is dangerous and can cause strangulation.

When choosing a pacifier, choose a pacifier that resembles the natural nipple and breast.  This will help you avoid improper breathing and abnormal molding of the baby’s jaws.  Ensure that it is the proper size and strength, that it does not remain in your baby’s mouth too long, and that they do not suck on the pacifier too hard.

Call Parkway Dental at 919-380-9622 to learn more about pacifiers and your child’s oral health and schedule your child’s appointment with Dr. Stephen Coker in Cary, North Carolina.