thumbsuckingSucking on a thumb or pacifier is a natural reflex for babies and toddlers which helps to sooth & comfort them. It can be beneficial for the child (and parent) by helping the child sleep, stay calm during periods of stress, and may even reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).

After a certain age, however, a thumbsucking or pacifier habit can become harmful. It may affect the way permanent teeth grow in and even lead to changes in the shape of the child’s jaw. Most children will stop these habits on their own by about four years of age, but if the habit persists much longer, they may need some help and encouragement.

A pacifier habit can often end by merely taking away the pacifier or even gradually reducing how often it is used until it is eventually taken away completely. Cessation of a thumbsucking habit is usually harder due to the continuous availability of the thumbs! A popular remedy is to paint the child’s thumbs with a foul-tasting topical solution but this is frequently ineffective or even harmful.

Some more positive and effective solutions can be to praise the child for making strides in reducing their habit as opposed to scolding or condemning continued thumbsucking or pacifier use. Another frequently successful method is to cover their hands with socks to prevent thumbsucking while they sleep. You may also try swapping a child’s thumb for a different comfort item such as a favorite stuffed animal.

If your child is still having trouble stopping use of a pacifier or sucking their thumb, please come to us with your questions and concerns. We will develop a plan together to address your concerns and help your child overcome these habits!



Mon - Fri 7:00am – 5:00pm
Saturday 7:00am - 3:00pm
Sunday Closed