When a baby starts crying, one of the first things many parents do is offer a pacifier. As the child ages, it’s natural for parents to wonder how long they should keep using the pacifier, no matter how effective it might be at calming a fussy baby. For all its benefits, parents and those working in child care services should be aware of the negative effects of pacifiers as well as when a pacifier should no longer be used.
No Hard and Fast Rules
While some experts are under the belief that pacifiers become more of a habit and less of a useful implement after six months, most say that a child should no longer use a pacifier after turning two. There’s also the debate between baby pacifiers vs thumb sucking. Thumb sucking can be just as harmful as a pacifier for a child’s developing mouth. What type of harm you ask?
The Dangers of Pacifiers
One of the biggest issues surrounding prolonged use of pacifiers is that they can lead to ear infections. This is because after a while of sucking on a pacifier, your child’s auditory tubes can open up more than normal. When this happens, throat secretions work their way into the middle ear where they can cause infections. There’s also evidence that suggests that pacifiers and thumb-sucking can damage the alignment of baby teeth, but that same evidence indicates that the damage isn’t permanent.
Weaning a Child Off Pacifiers and Thumb-Sucking
As children age, many suck their thumb or pacifier as a way to relieve the stress of starting school or being stuck in a car for a long period of time. While these methods of stress relief are no reason for you to be alarmed, you should take steps to wean your child off of both the pacifier and their thumb. Specifically, it’s best to start helping a child stop using a pacifier or sucking her or his thumb well before the age of three. Without taking preventative steps, it’s possible that the child’s upper row of teeth will start to tilt forward and lead to dental problems in the future.
Besides the baby pacifiers vs thumb sucking issues mentioned above, there’s a chance a child might develop speech problems due to prolong use of a pacifier. Pacifiers and thumbs can make it troublesome for a child to practice speaking. There are some great articles online to suggest ways to stop thumb sucking in toddlers and we encourage our readers to read these 9 tips on WebMD.com
It can be difficult to break your child of his or her pacifier habit. This post highlights some of the dental problems caused by pacifiers such as a posterior crossbite or an open bite.