Posted .

Has anyone ever told you to avoid giving your child a pacifier at all costs? Has anyone told you that it’s dangerous to let your child suck their thumb? Have you ever worried about which of these claims are true, or about how you might be able to stop your child from sucking their thumb if it isn’t safe?  Would you be surprised that the rumors are at least partially true?

As you’ve probably realized, your child typically sucks their thumb for comfort. Thumb sucking is natural and typically won’t cause problems for young children. Sadly, if your child sucks their thumb after they are six years old, they could slant their teeth or damage the top of their mouth. Fortunately, most children   stop sucking their thumbs on their own before they are six years old.

Similarly, it is normal and safe for your child to suck on a pacifier until they are four years old. If your child sucks on a pacifier after they are four years old, the roof of their mouth may be much narrower, their teeth could tilt, and their jaw could misalign.

If you are hoping to help your child break either of these habits, please remember that you can take to take away a pacifier, but not a thumb—making thumb sucking a harder habit to break. If you decide to take the pacifier away, please be sure to look for potential hiding spots. Your children could be more resourceful than you expect. Also, be careful when covering your child’s thumb. While it may help, it can also cause anxiety that actually increases their desire to suck. Finally, since thumb sucking and pacifiers are used to reduce anxiety, we recommend not punishing your child for sucking as this may cause increase anxiety. Instead, please reward them for abstaining.

If you are interested in learning more, please feel free to contact us soon. We will gladly answer any questions you have.