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Thumbsucking & Pacifier Use

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There’s no such thing as a secret parenting hack to make all your worries go away. There’s always a lot of confusion with so many opinions from so many different people. But remember, only YOU know what’s best for YOUR kid.

One of the very first parental decisions you have to make for your child might concern your child’s sucking behavior. Do you let your child suck on their thumb or get a pacifier? Is it even healthy for your child to keep sucking? At what age do kids usually stop sucking? What happens if they don’t stop?

Before you get into the nitty-gritty listed by the Dental Care Specialists at Eve Dental Care, let’s begin with why do kids engage in non-nutritional sucking?

Well, it is an innate behavior that helps them soothe themselves. It provides a sense of security and helps cope with disturbing situations, such as being away from the parents or in an unfamiliar environment.

Thumbsucking vs. Pacifiers

While there are many debates backed by facts and rumors as to what’s best for the babies, it’s crucial to keep in mind that every child is different. While pacifiers might work for most kids, thumbsucking might be the best choice for others.

One of the reasons, why pacifiers might be a better choice compared to thumbsucking, is the fact that it is associated with a reduction in the rate of SIDS, also known as Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. What better reason to give your child a pacifier than the fact that it could save their lives? Another great reason to give your child a pacifier is that weaning your child off pacifiers is easy, compared to their thumb.

However, the use of pacifiers might not be okay for all babies. The rigorous continuous sucking of pacifiers could cause your child’s ear to be abnormally open, allowing fluids from the throat to seep into the middle ear, causing ear infections. So, if your child starts getting an ear infection, it’s best to take away the pacifier. Another drawback of using a pacifier is the fact that the child might cry every time the pacifier drops while sleeping. It causes you to wake multiple times during a night.

Before You Give your Babies Pacifiers

Hygiene: Make sure that the pacifier is clean. You don’t want any germs making their way into your child’s system.

Safety Check: Don’t attach the pacifier with a string long enough to be wrapped around your child’s neck. You never know when an accident might happen.

At What Age Do Kids Usually Stop Sucking?

Most kids usually stop sucking once they start exploring the surroundings and blabbing, around the age of 2 to 4. Some kids take longer and stop once they start going to school and interacting with friends.

What Happens If They Don’t Stop?

If your kids don’t stop sucking on their pacifier or thumb by the age of 5, it could cause serious damage to the development of their mouths. Aggressive sucking is known to create issues with the alignment of their teeth. In severe cases, it could also cause changes in the roof of the child’s mouth.

How to Make your Child Stop Sucking?

Well, for starters, don’t scold your child every time they suck on their thumb. As sucking is a reflex action to soothe them during difficult situations, scolding could make them anxious which could prolong the sucking behavior. Instead, you could try to understand what makes them feel uncomfortable and comfort them. Adding on, you could give your child words of encouragement every time your child doesn’t suck on their thumb.

If these methods don’t work, you could also try bandaging their finger or putting a clean sock on their fingers before they go to bed.

What Do You Do When Nothing Works?

Children can be stubborn, and habits are difficult to break. But that doesn’t mean impossible. The best option after you exhausted all your resources would be to take your child to a pediatric dentist. Your dentist could help your kid understand the consequences in detail, which might help convince them to leave their finger sucking habit. Your dentist could also prescribe a mouth appliance or medication to apply on your child’s finger to control the behavior.

Please note, it is always the best to call your pediatrician for dental implants & services or any other health care if you notice any abnormalities or have any questions.

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