When should a child give up their pacifier? Many parents find it a huge milestone that they aren’t always eager to reach, especially when a pacifier helps sooth their child or ease them into sleep. The truth is, your child needs to be giving up their pacifier around the time of their first birthday…when teeth are beginning to erupt, or at the very latest around 18 months of age. The last thing you want to have is a preschooler that still relies on a pacifier. Extended sucking on pacifies or fingers can interfere with proper tooth positioning, jaw development, and even their facial profiles as they age. Misaligned teeth, overbites, and recessed jaws will affect them for years, as well as make orthodontic treatment a definite need in the future. Teeth with over-jets are more likely to become fractured during bumps or falls.
There are a variety of approaches for giving up the pacifier. Reducing the times your child gets it is an easy first step…not letting them have it except during naps or bedtime. Some parents find it successful to cut the end of the pacifier off. The child then sees the pacifier has “broken” and finds that it is not comfortable to suck on. Other parents take it away cold-turkey. No matter what the approach is, most likely it will take at least a few days for your child to self-soothe during resting times without it.
Don’t worry…taking the first steps toward breaking a pacifier can be scary, especially for new parents! After a few days, and without going back to it, your child will do just fine.
Posted on behalf of Dr. Brett Gluck, DMD, MS, PC
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