Children who love their pacifiers or sucking on a thumb can have a hard time breaking the habit, but it’s an important stage of childhood. Extended thumbsucking and pacifier use can change the way the teeth bite together, creating complications like open bites or overbites. Knowing how and when to discontinue these habits is important.
We recommend that all children discontinue pacifier use by their first birthday. Pacifier use can be weaned down or simply cut off cold turkey if the pacifier “disappears.” Some parents find it useful to cut the tip off of the pacifier, making it uncomfortable to suck.
Thumb and finger sucking can be more challenging. While some children can make a conscious effort to not suck on fingers, others may need to have socks placed on their hands at naptime.
Create an Incentive
Older children that require incentives for giving up thumb or finger sucking can respond well to a calendar system. For every day that they go without sucking a finger, a sticker is placed on the calendar. If they make it an entire month, they receive a reward! Help your child set the reward ahead of time. It can be as simple as eating at their favorite restaurant, a trip to the movies, or even a special toy.
Denali Pediatric Dentistry has helped hundreds of parents break their children’s thumb and pacifier habits. For tips or a special reward for your child from our office, call us.