Knoxville and Maryville, TN
Pacifiers are everywhere when you have a baby or young toddler. You probably have one in the car, in your purse and diaper bag, and in nearly every room of the house. Many babies become attached to a pacifier at a young age. Although babies have a natural tendency to suck on either their fingers or a pacifier, this instinct can quickly become a bad habit if allowed to linger for too long, causing growth and development concerns.
Most pediatricians recommend throwing out bottles and pacifiers by the time your child reaches one year of age, but for many parents, that isn’t an easy accomplishment. Your family dentists in Maryville at Crestview Dental Care want to provide you with some tips on when and how to help break your child’s attachment to the pacifier.
The earlier the better
Experts agree that breaking the paci habit sooner rather than later is ideal. While sucking a pacifier can help reduce the risk of SIDS in an infant, by the time a child reaches about 12 months of age, it’s time to kick the habit. Waiting until the age of two or later means that your child has already begun to realize that he or she has a mind of their own, hence the “terrible twos,” and may not be as willing to relinquish their pacifier. Cognitive growth is rapid by age two, which makes taking the paci away before then a bit easier for moms and dads.
Aim to replace your child’s pacifier with another lovey such as a blanket, special toy, or stuffed animal. At first, opting for a toy that is squishy and safe for your child to chew on makes for an easier transition. Plus, safe chew toys may help ease discomfort as your child cuts teeth.
After taking the pacifier away, stick to your guns and do not give in by allowing your child to have it back. Instead, calmly tell your child that the paci is broken. An example is to tell your child that their paci is broken and that it cannot be fixed, so you had to throw it away. Or, you could even allow your child to participate by helping you throw out the paci.
Some children respond better to changes when they have informed ahead of time. Try doing a countdown by telling your child that in three days, paci gets thrown away. Each day remind your child that paci is going to be thrown out in a few days. On the final day, you can do a short countdown together. During the countdown phase, you may even want to practice limiting the use of the paci. In other words, try only allowing the paci at bedtime or during naps.
Quit cold turkey
There is always quitting cold turkey. Because this may be a difficult time, and stressful even for mommy and daddy, try to do this during a weekend or time that you can be at home with your child to help soothe them. Simply take the paci away and don’t ever look back!
Allowing your child to have a paci beyond one to two years of age could interfere with the growth and development of their jaws, airways, and of course, teeth. While parents often assume their child will just get braces later on, crooked teeth are not the only thing to worry about with prolonged pacifier use. Airway disorders such as sleep apnea could plague your child, interfering with their academics, athletic performance, and their behavior.
For more information about this topic and more, contact Crestview Dental Care for a consultation by calling (865) 982-1700.
Crestview Dental Care provides total oral health care for patients in the areas of Maryville and Knoxville, Tennessee.