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Pacifier or Thumb?

250405-baby-pacifierMost parents worry about almost everything their baby does, it’s in the job description! Hope these facts from the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) help you know more about your baby’s use of a pacifier and whether you should worry or let it be. In any case, you are welcome to bring all you questions to your next visit to Haring Dental Group!

  • Babies suck even when they are not hungry (a natural reflex called non-nutritive sucking) for pleasure, comfort and security. In fact, some babies begin to suck on their fingers or thumbs even before they are born.
  • In the pacifier-versus-thumb debate, the AAPD votes for pacifiers over thumbs to comfort new babies. A pacifier habit is easier to break at an earlier age. The earlier a sucking habit is stopped, the less chance the habit will lead to orthodontic problems.
  • Sucking on a thumb, finger, or pacifier is normal for infants and young children; most children stop on their own. If a child does not stop by herself, the habit should be discouraged after age three.
  • Thumb, finger and pacifier sucking all can affect the teeth essentially the same way. If a child repeatedly sucks on a finger, pacifier or other object over long periods of time, the upper front teeth may tip outward or not come in properly. Other changes in tooth position and jaw alignment also may occur.

Parent Tips for Safe Pacifiers

  • Neverer dip the pacifier into honey or anything sweet before giving it to a baby.
  • Never attach a pacifier to the child’s crib or body with a string, ribbon or cord.
  • A pacifier’s shield should be wider than the child’s mouth. Discontinue use if the child can fit the entire pacifier in his mouth.
  • Inspect pacifiers frequently for signs of wear or deterioration; discard if the bulb has become sticky, swollen, or cracked.
  • Never leave an infant unattended with a pacifier in her mouth, or let her sleep with a pacifier.
  • Never substitute a bottle nipple for a pacifier.