Are pacifiers bad? As a mother, I now know this to be a passionate and confusing topic.
This hot topic hits close to home since my adorable son just turned one year old and yes, he uses a pacifier...gasp!
As a speech therapist, I decided, years ago, I would NEVER use a pacifier and avoid any potential harm to my child. Then...my son was born and I threw that idea out the window.
If you are in a hurry, you can jump down to my conclusion now. Are pacifiers bad? If not, read on!
Things are looking positive....there are a few cons to consider though.
The verdict is out on this one...
After 3-5 years of age, the American Dental Association warns that use of a pacifier or thumb sucking may cause dental problems. As a professional, I have seen this happen. Dental problems may cause an articulation/speech disorder or a reverse swallow pattern (tongue thrust).
In my clinical experience, I have worked with children, 4 years and older, who continued to suck their thumb or use a pacifier and had lisps and/or a tongue thrust. Until we got their habit under wraps, their speech and swallow abilities did not improve.
Therefore, through experience, there may be some truth to it after the age of 3.
If pacifiers can be bad, why use them? For one, my life as a mommy would be much harder without pacifiers. I use them for my one year old on a daily basis....in moderation!
Babies and young toddlers do not have developed soothing mechanisms. A pacifier can be helpful at night to calm a baby down, bring comfort, and relax them...the same way a bath, book, tv, or stretching does for some adults.
Therefore, for me, it is okay to offer a pacifier. When your child’s cognition develops, he may start to find comfort in a blanket or stuffed bear. When this happens, your child is ready to transition away from pacifier use.
Out of sight out of mind. Sucking on a pacifier brings comfort to our little ones. If something brings us comfort (checking our smartphones CONSTANTLY) and it is in front of us all day, we will most likely do it!
Same thing with a pacifier. During the day, take the pacifier away and hide it. Offer it only at nap or when upset.
Are pacifiers bad? NO! The key is moderation and best judgement.
Make sure the pacifier is hidden during the day so your little one has plenty of opportunity to talk and babble and interact with others. Social and speech development necessities.
After the age of 2 or when your child finds comfort from blankets or teddy bears, I would start to phase out the pacifier. If your child starts to suck their thumb....that is another battle. Click here for tips to stop thumb sucking. I have tried almost everything with my clients!