Print, Share, or View Spanish version of this article
All babies are born with the need to
suck. This is important because babies need the sucking reflex to eat and drink.
Sucking for some babies also can have a soothing and calming effect. However,
when does sucking become a problem? Read on for information from the American
Academy of Pediatrics about pacifiers, when pacifier use and thumb and finger
sucking could become a problem, and how to help your child stop pacifier use or
thumb or finger sucking.
If your baby wants to suck beyond what nursing
or bottle-feeding provides, a pacifier may satisfy that need. Before offering a
pacifier, keep the following tips in mind:
Offer a pacifier at nap time and
bedtime. This helps to reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome
(SIDS). If you are breastfeeding, wait until breastfeeding is going well
before offering a pacifier. This usually takes about 3 to 4 weeks.
Do not use a pacifier to replace or
delay meals. Only offer it when you are sure your baby is not
Do not force your baby to take the
pacifier if he doesn't want it.
Never tie a pacifier to your
child's crib or around your child's neck or hand. This is
very dangerous and could cause serious injury or even death.
Be prepared for night waking. If your
child depends on a pacifier to fall asleep at night, he may wake up when
the pacifier falls out. If you child is too young to put it back in his
mouth or can't find or reach it if it has fallen out of the crib,
you may need to wake up and get it for him.
Pacifiers come in different sizes. You
will also find a variety of nipple shapes, from squarish
"orthodontic" versions to the standard bottle type. Try
different kinds until you find the one your baby prefers.
Look for a 1-piece model that has a soft
nipple (some models can break into 2 pieces).
The shield should be at least
11/2 inches across so a baby cannot put the
entire pacifier into her mouth. Also, the shield should be made
of firm plastic with airholes.
Make sure the pacifier is
dishwasher-safe. Follow the instructions on the pacifier and boil it or
run it through the dishwasher before your baby uses it. Be sure to
squeeze the water out of the nipple with clean hands; otherwise, the hot
water inside might burn your baby's mouth. Clean it this way
frequently until your baby is 6 months old so that your infant is not
exposed to germs. After that you can just wash it with soap and rinse it
in clear water.
Buy some extras. Pacifiers have a way of
getting lost or falling on the floor or street when you need them
Do not use the nipple from a baby bottle
as a pacifier. If the baby sucks hard, the nipple may pop out of the
ring and choke her.
Pacifiers fall apart over time. Some
manufacturers have expiration dates for pacifiers. Do not keep pacifiers
past that time. Inspect them every once in a while to see whether the
rubber has changed color or has torn. If so, replace them.
If your child sucks strongly on a pacifier or
his thumb or fingers beyond 2 to 4 years of age, this behavior may affect the
shape of his mouth or how his teeth are lining up. If your child stops sucking
on a pacifier or his thumb or fingers before his permanent front teeth come in,
there's a good chance his bite will correct itself. However, if the bite
does not correct itself and the upper adult teeth are sticking out, orthodontic
treatment may be needed to realign the teeth and help prevent broken front
As a first step in dealing with your
child's sucking habits, ignore them! Most often, they will stop on their
own. Harsh words, teasing, or punishment may upset your child and is not an
effective way to get rid of habits. Instead, try the following:
Praise and reward your child when she
does not suck her thumb or use the pacifier. Star charts, daily rewards,
and gentle reminders, especially during the day, are also very
If your child uses sucking to relieve
boredom, keep her hands busy or distract her with things she finds
If you see changes in the roof of your
child's mouth (palate) or in the way the teeth are lining up,
talk with your pediatrician or pediatric dentist. There are devices that
can be put in the mouth that make it uncomfortable to suck on a finger
No matter what method you try, be sure
to explain it to your child. If it makes your child afraid or tense,
stop it at once.
The good news is that most children stop their
sucking habits before they get very far in school. This is because of peer
pressure. While your child might still use sucking as a way of going to sleep or
calming down when upset, this is usually done in private and is not harmful.
Putting too much pressure on your child to stop may cause more harm than good.
Be assured your child will eventually stop the habit on her own.
The information contained in these topics is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, it is provided for educational purposes only. You assume full responsibility for how you choose to use this information.
Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider before starting any new treatment or discontinuing an existing treatment. Talk with your healthcare provider about any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Nothing contained in these topics is intended to be used for medical diagnosis or treatment.
If you think that you are having a medical emergency,
call 911 or the number for the local emergency ambulance service NOW!
And when in doubt, call your doctor NOW
or go to the closest emergency department.
By using this website, you accept the information provided herein "AS IS." Neither RemedyConnect nor the providers of the information contained herein will have any liability to you arising out of your use of the information contained herein or make any express or implied warranty regarding the accuracy, content, completeness, reliability, or efficacy of the information contained within this website.
RemedyConnect, Inc. has created this privacy statement in order to demonstrate our firm commitment to your privacy. The following discloses our information gathering and dissemination practices for this website: http://www.remedyconnect.com.
Acquisition of Information through PMD
We do not acquire any more information about website visitors than is required by law or is otherwise necessary to provide a high level of service efficiently and securely. Our site's registration form requires users to give us contact information (e.g., their name and e-mail address) and demographic information (e.g., children's birth months, but not birth dates). We use customer contact information from the registration form to (1) send the user pertinent medical and parenting information and (2) allow your local health provider lists of who is registering on that provider's site as a parent/guardian, staff member, doctor, or visitor. Users may opt-out of receiving future mailings; see the choice/opt-out section below.
We use your IP address to help diagnose problems with our server and to administer our Website. Your IP address is used to help identify you and to gather broad demographic information.
Demographic and profile data is also collected at our site. We may use this data to tailor the visitor's experience at our site, showing them content that we think they might be interested in, and displaying the content according to their preferences.
Our site may use order forms to allow users to request information, products, and services.
Your Doctor's Right to Privacy
We will respect your doctor's right to privacy. A doctor typically does not give his/her e-mail address to the parents/guardians of patients. We will not provide the e-mail addresses of doctor(s) in the local practice to users of their site without the doctor(s)' permission. Their site is restricted to use by whomever they wish, and they may deny access to their site to one or more prior users. In unusual cases, doctors may change their private site's access code and arrange for us to e-mail the new access code to approved users.
This site contains links to other sites. RemedyConnect.com is not responsible for the privacy practices or the content of such Websites. See Disclaimers.
Disclosure to Third Parties
We will provide individually-identifiable information about website users to third parties only if we are compelled to do so by order of a duly-empowered governmental authority, we have the express permission of the visitor, or it is necessary to process transactions and provide you services from our affiliates: Live Agent Answering Service, Digital Answering Service, Medical Answering Service and Pediatric Answering Service.
Privacy and Our Business Partners
This site may make chat rooms, forums, message boards, and/or news groups available to its users. Please remember that any information that is disclosed in these areas becomes public information and you should exercise caution when deciding to disclose your personal information.
This site has security measures in place to protect the loss, misuse and alteration of the information under our control. For further information regarding our security, please contact us at email@example.com. If you have any concerns regarding the security of information, please do not provide any information to RemedyConnect, Inc. until you are comfortable with our security measures.
You may correct or update your User Registration information at any time, by visiting the User Registration section and providing your personal password that you set at registration. If need be, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Our site provides users the opportunity to opt-out of receiving e-mail communications from our partners or us, except communications approved by your doctor's practice office. To so opt-out, please email us at email@example.com. To be removed as a user, please email us at the same address. If need be, you may mail requests to us at RemedyConnect, Inc., 9200 E. Mineral Avenue, Suite 100, Centennial, CO 80112. Our telephone number is 303-793-0703.
Contacting the Website
If you have any questions about this privacy statement, the practices of this site, or your dealings with this Website, you can contact us by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by mail at our address above.