A pacifier can be a lifesaver. When your child is happily sucking away on his or her “binky,” you sleep more and worry less, and so does your child.
But there comes a time when the pacifier has got to go. It will begin to start causing more harm than it is worth, and that’s when it’s time to pull the plug — literally.
Does a Pacifier Affect Tooth Development?
Experts agree that sucking on a pacifier before age 2 will not hurt your child’s tooth development. If it does affect the teeth, you can stop pacifier use and the teeth will correct themselves within six months. However, once your child has his or her second birthday, it’s time to start thinking long-term.
After age 2, continuing to suck on a pacifier or fingers can affect the development of children’s teeth, and also the shape of their mouths. Their upper and lower jaws may become misaligned as well. It may be time for you to construct a game plan for quitting the pacifier.
Here are five tips that can help you decide what to do:
Wait for the Right Time
You may see your child’s need to suck on a pacifier as unnecessary, but that doesn’t mean he or she thinks so too. The pacifier is a central fixture in his or her life. It probably imparts feelings of calm and security.
When you take it away, a child likely to experience a range of emotions. Try to time this so it doesn’t coincide with any other stressful events, such as moving or starting at a new daycare. If you wait for the right time, you will have more success in the weaning process.
Many parents advocate weaning slowly to soften the blow and make the transition easier. Start limiting the pacifier to bedtime and naptimes only, then slowly eliminate naptime. Eventually, remove the pacifier from the bed after your child has fallen asleep and then take it away completely at night.
Offer Other Forms of Comfort
During the weaning process, substitute other comfort items, such as a soft blanket or a plush stuffed animal. You also can give children being weaned extra love and attention to enhance their feeling of security while they go through the initial stage of missing their pacifier.
Change the Experience
Some parents elect to take an abrupt approach by dipping the pacifier in vinegar or lemon juice, making it extremely distasteful for their children. You could also poke a hole in it so they do not achieve the same satisfaction while sucking. When you go this route, they might decide to give up the pacifier on their own, without any additional prompting.
Get Rid of it Entirely
Of course, you could simply take the pacifier away all at once. Making your child go “cold turkey” may work the best, depending on your child’s personality. Whichever tactic you choose, you know what’s best for your child and you will be able to adjust your method as needed in order to keep them happy and satisfied.
If your child has new baby teeth growing in, it’s time to set up an appointment at Oak Hills Dentistry. The team can help you plan how to wean your child from his or her pacifier, as well as offer advice for all of your other questions related to oral health.