Pacifiers and Thumb Sucking

All babies are born with the need to suck. This is important because babies need the sucking reflex to eat and drink. Sucking for some babies also can have a soothing and calming effect. However, when does sucking become a problem?

Read on for information from the American Academy of Pediatrics about pacifiers, when pacifier use and thumb and finger sucking could become a problem, and how to help your child stop pacifier use or thumb or finger sucking.

What do I need to know before offering a pacifier?

-If your baby wants to suck beyond what ­nursing or bottle-feeding provides, a pacifier may satisfy that need. Before offering a pacifier, keep the following tips in mind:
-Offer a pacifier at nap time and bedtime. This helps to reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). If you are breastfeeding, wait until breastfeeding is going well before offering a pacifier. This usually takes about 3 to 4 weeks.
-Do not use a pacifier to replace or delay meals. Only offer it when you are sure your baby is not hungry.
-Do not force your baby to take the pacifier if he doesn’t want it.
-Never tie a pacifier to your child’s crib or around your child’s neck or hand. This is very dangerous and could cause serious ­injury or even death.
-Be prepared for night waking. If your child depends on a pacifier to fall asleep at night, he may wake up when the pacifier falls out. If your child is too young to put it back in his mouth or can’t find or reach it if it has fallen out of the crib, you may need to wake up and get it for him.

When do pacifier use and thumb and finger sucking become a problem?
If your child sucks strongly on a pacifier or his thumb or fingers beyond 2 to 4 years of age, this behavior may affect the shape of his mouth or how his teeth are lining up. If your child stops sucking on a pacifier or his thumb or ­fingers before his permanent front teeth come in, there’s a good chance his bite
will correct itself. However, if the bite does not correct itself and the upper adult teeth are sticking out, orthodontic treatment may be needed to realign the teeth and help prevent broken front teeth.

https://www.healthychildren.org/English/ages-stages/baby/crying-colic/Pages/Pacifiers-and-Thumb-Sucking.aspx