Many parents show concern about their child’s thumb sucking or pacifier use. As a parent, you may wonder at what age it must stop or what might happen if he doesn’t stop using it.
Surely, sucking is one of your baby’s natural reflexes. Did you know they start to suck their fingers while still inside the womb? Most infants and little children suck their thumbs or pacifiers to help them feel happy and secure and it helps them discover the world.
Sucking their thumbs provides many kids with a sense of security, particularly during difficult situation like when they get separated from their parents, in an unfamiliar plant or surrounded by strangers. Because sucking is relaxing, it also help induce sleep. This is the reason why they thumb suck or use pacifier during bedtime or when feeling tired.
However, long-term thumb sucking can cause issues with the alignment of their teeth and the proper growth of the mouth. It can also cause problems in the root of their mouth. Kids who simply rest their thumb in their mouths have lesser risk of experiencing these dental problems than children who suck their thumbs vigorously. Active thumbsuckers may experience problems with their baby teeth.
How to Break the Pacifier Habit
Pacifier use can affect the teeth the same way as thumbsucking does. But, compared to thumbsucking, pacifier use is much easier habit to break.
To wean your child from pacifier use, do it gradually. Start by removing the pacifier in relaxed situations such as when the child is playing, happy and at home. Once he get used to not using pacifier at home, start removing its outdoor use.
From this point, limit the use of pacifier in the crib. Convincing your child to do the final break may be difficult. Many parents use Santa or Binky Fairy to smoothen the transition.
Whatever method you use, prepare yourself for 2 to 5 nights of screaming, kicking and crying. Be firm and never give in. Remember that children have endured this phase for hundreds of years. Your child will get rid of it eventually.
Most children stop thumb sucking or pacifier use between 2 to 4 years of age. Such behaviour gradually lessens during this age when spend more hours discovering their surroundings. If your child doesn’t stop on his own, parents must stop the habit after age 4.