Pacifiers are one of the most popular ways for babies and young toddlers to self-soothe, and as much as 85 percent of infants use them at some point. They are generally considered safe but can cause dental and other issues if they are used for too long into a child's development. That's why proper weaning should be on the radar for every parent whose child uses a pacifier.
Why Older Toddlers Should Be Weaned Off of Pacifiers
It is recommended by the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry that children be weaned off of pacifier use by the age of three. This helps to prevent the many potential side effects of pacifier use past that age, such as speech delays, feeding difficulties, more ear infections than normal, and dental problems (especially issues with the bite and the direction of the front teeth).
How To Go About Weaning Your Child Off of a Pacifier
It may seem like an overwhelming task considering how attached children become to their pacifiers, but with the right planning, you'll find it isn't as difficult as it seems. Some of the best ideas to implement in the process include the following:
• Start delaying giving them their paci when they cry for it by a few minutes at a time
• Eventually, only give them their paci when they're napping or sleeping at night
• Then phase out the paci during their naps so that they only use it at night
• Finally, when you feel they're ready, try bedtime without the paci and see how it goes
In no time, your child will be happily toddling their way along without their old crutch. If you have further questions about how you might go about weaning your child off of using a pacifier (or about anything else related to their dental health), reach out to us at Pediatric Dental Group using our contact page or by calling us at one of the numbers listed there. We're here to help you navigate the complexities of your growing child's dental health.