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Have you ever given your child a pacifier? Have you caught them sucking their thumb? Do you ever wonder if either of these habits is safe?

As you’ve probably realized, your child typically sucks their thumb for comfort. Thumb sucking is natural and typically won’t cause problems for young children. Sadly, if your child sucks their thumb after they are six years old, they could slant their teeth or damage the top of their mouth. Fortunately, most children   stop sucking their thumbs on their own before they are six years old.

Like thumb sucking, using a pacifier is safe until your child reaches a certain age. However, unlike thumb sucking, your little one should only take a pacifier until they are four years old. This is extremely important because if your child enjoys a pacifier for more than four years, they could do damage to their jaw or teeth—which could lead to painful, costly treatments later.

If you are hoping to help your child break either of these habits, please remember that you can take to take away a pacifier, but not a thumb—making thumb sucking a harder habit to break. If you decide to take the pacifier away, please be sure to look for potential hiding spots. Your children could be more resourceful than you expect. Also, be careful when covering your child’s thumb. While it may help, it can also cause anxiety that actually increases their desire to suck. Finally, since thumb sucking and pacifiers are used to reduce anxiety, we recommend not punishing your child for sucking as this may cause increase anxiety. Instead, please reward them for abstaining.

If you are interested in learning more, please feel free to contact us soon. We will gladly answer any questions you have.