For babies, sucking is very natural. It is how they nourish and soothe themselves. When a baby is not eating, the pacifier is better to use for soothing than a finger, thumb, or a toy.
Pacifiers are less likely to cause a malocclusion and are usually discontinued at an earlier age than thumbsucking. However, improper size and shape of the pacifier, strength of sucking action and length of time present in the mouth can all cause abnormal development of the jaw and teeth. It is easier however, to take away a pacifier than to discourage using a finger or thumb. Thumbsuckers typically continue the habit until 3-5 years of age.
Items to Note on Pacifiers
- If you notice your child beginning to suck their fingers or thumbs during the first 3 months of life, consider introducing your child to a pacifier.
- To avoid any trauma to the gums, it's important to buy a pacifier with a nipple made of rubber.
- Do not use the pacifier around the clock, only when necessary.
- In rare instances, pacifiers may cause complications like abnormal swallowing patterns.
- Check the pacifier daily for breakage. They do not last forever and should be replaced when wear or damage is noticed. A damaged pacifier can cause choking.
- Do not hang the pacifier around your baby's neck with a string. This practice is dangerous and can cause strangulation.
- Avoid improper breathing and abnormal molding of the baby's jaws by choosing a pacifier that resembles the natural nipple and breast.