Babies and toddlers will turn to a pacifier or thumb as a source of comfort. During the first few years, these sucking habits aren’t harmful and are part of the natural coping process.
But after the age of 3—or when baby teeth have developed—prolonged sucking can cause dental problems such as
• Teeth protrusion
• Jaw misalignment
• Narrowed mouth
Although many children stop sucking on their own, others may require encouragement. To wean your child from their sucking habit, it’s best to begin before he or she reaches 24 months.
Here are 3 ways to help with weaning:
Limit pacifier use to nap time and before bed, and gradually decrease it from there.
If your child turns to sucking when they need comfort, try substituting the pacifier and thumb with a silk-lined blanket or stuffed toy.
If your child is a thumbsucker, avoid reprimanding the action. Instead, compliment and reward them when they avoid sucking in a stressful situation (like leaving a parent).
Here’s to a lifetime of healthy smiles! For more children’s oral health tips, visit our blog.