When Is Thumbsucking a Problem?


While it may "pacifiy" a crying child, finger-sucking and pacifier habits that lasts beyond the toddler years can harm your child’s jaws and teeth.


A Healthy Self-Soothing Habit

Notice, I said "beyond the toddler years". With toddlers and infants, those self-soothing habits are perfectly healthy. Pacifiers and thumbsucking can help the child feel happy and safe when encountering a new or stressful experience (which frequently happens, as everything they encounter is unique to them). So, when it comes to pacifiers and thumbsucking, the benefits are many for babies and their parents.


When It Stops Being Healthy

However, continuing these habits can change how the developing adult teeth and even the shape of their dental arches will come in after a certain age. Most children will grow out of the habit by age 4. If they aren’t showing signs of stopping by, it could be time to intervene.


Ways to Discourage the Habit

When it comes to pacifier habits, there are no simple answers. We recommend praising successes rather than scolding failures, giving them activities to keep their hands too busy for sucking and putting socks over them to discourage thumbsucking at night.

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