Parents will pop in a pacifier to calm and soothe their children, as sucking is a natural way for babies and toddlers to comfort themselves. During the first few years, these sucking habits aren’t harmful, but they can have long-term implications in the long run.
If you choose to give your little one a pacifier, keep these dos and don’ts in mind:
Don’t: Use after 3 years
Prolonged use of a pacifier can cause jaw misalignment and teeth protrusion, especially after baby teeth develop.
Do: Wean at 24 months
It’s best to begin weaning your child before he or she reaches 2-years-old. Here are some suggestions to make that process easier.
Don’t: Create a dependency
Avoid using a pacifier as a means to help your child sleep or eat. If your child resorts to sucking when they become stressed, understand why your baby is upset first before giving them a pacifier.
Do: Limit use
Start by reducing pacifier use to nap and bedtime, and then gradually decrease use from there.
Don’t: Sugarcoat it
If your child doesn’t want to use a pacifier, don’t try to entice him by coating it in sugar or honey, as this can increase your child’s risk for tooth decay. (And children 12 months and younger should NEVER have honey because of the risk of infant botulism.)
Do: Keep it clean
Pacifiers can be a breeding ground for bacteria that can harm a child’s oral and overall health. Keep the paci clean by rinsing it with hot water and soap after each use.
Here’s to a lifetime of healthy smiles! For more children’s oral health tips, visit our blog.