Many parents worry that pacifiers will harm baby’s teeth development. Truth is, it doesn’t really have any effect on a child under 2 years old.
May decrease the chance of cavities by keeping baby from using the bottle or breast for comfort sucking. Babies who fall asleep with the milk bottle can develop “baby-bottle cavities” from the milk that lingers in baby’s mouth for a prolonged time.
May help reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). Researchers speculate that pacifiers may keep babies from rolling onto their faces or may keep their tongues forward and away from their airways. It is recommended to not offer a pacifier just to prevent SIDS though – it’s just another reason to feel okay about doing so!
Babies on pacifiers have a higher chance to get an ear infection. If this is a recurring problem for your child, it may be worth considering eliminating the pacifier to see if it makes a difference.
It may be different to wean your child off the pacifier as they get older. Which brings us to our next point.. how do you wean your child who is heavily reliant on it?
When is a good age to stop?
From a dental health perspective, it’s best to limit the pacifier when a child is 2 years old and stop it entirely by the time she is 4 years old. Past age 4, pacifiers can cause an overbite, open bite, or crossbite – problems that affect chewing, speech and teeth alignment.
Methods to wean child off
1. Slowly limit the use of the pacifier
Offer the pacifier only during nap or bedtime. After a couple of weeks, stop offering it at naptime. If she fusses, try giving her her favourite toy instead, or comfort her through rocking or patting. Once your child is adjusted to this arrangement, work on bedtime.
2. Offer alternate comforts
When you first take away the pacifier, you’ll probably need to sooth her in other ways. Rocking, soft singing or patting are some ways to settle her down.
3. Create a story for them
Get creative here, mummies! This will work better if your child is old enough to understand and reason with. You could explain to your child that she is a big girl and that there are other babies out there who needs her pacifier. Get them to decorate a gift box and pack it in – make it a big deal! Be sure to offer a lot of praises and a small present to them for being so kind and generous.
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