Sucking is a natural reflex that all babies develop. For some children, they have been doing it since the womb—literally before they were born! This is why pacifiers are comforting to nearly every child in the world. Mothers everywhere have been using pacifiers for centuries to calm crying and cranky babies, and that can lead to a special attachment.
Most children will naturally loose interest in the pacifier, stopping around the age of 2 up to the age of 4. Some children though develop a level of comfort with the pacifier that they are not willing to give up easily.
What’s Wrong With Pacifiers?
Many parents might be worried mostly about what other children will say if they see a toddler beyond 4 years old still using a pacifier, but the truth is that there are other less obvious consequences. Prolonged pacifier use, like thumb sucking, can lead to serious orthodontic problems later on in life.
In extreme cases, children’s teeth start to grow at an outward angle and jaws can become misaligned creating painful issues. For the most part, normal pacifier usage will not lead to these problems, but if your child has developed an intense attachment, it’s time to take action.
Breaking the Habit
Here are some simple tips that will help you to help your child kick their pacifier addiction, and if they aren’t working, you can always consult with your dentist about new strategies or issues that pacifiers might present.
1. Substitutes: Find a favorite toy or blanket that you can slip into their hands just as they are falling asleep. They might have been asking for a pacifier, but if you time it right, you can avoid them sucking all night.
2. Distractions: A tickle, a little bit of affection, songs, or maybe even the TV might be enough to tear their attention away from wanting the pacifier.
3. Make Up A Story: The tooth fairy rewards children for giving up their baby teeth, why couldn’t she come up with a handsome incentive to leave the pacifier under the pillow?