My older son had his pacifier until he was 3. I finally parted with it after my smart-alec pediatrician told me I should Google how much orthodontist bills would cost me later in life.
Sucking is an innate reflex that babies develop and practice in the womb. Sucking also seems like it's comforting well into a child’s first years of life -- long after he or she no longer needs to get nourishment from a breast or bottle.
So if his "non-nutritive sucking" is soothing, why is it a problem?
Some people scolded me for letting my baby have a pacifier, suggesting that it can even prevent his teeth from developing properly.
When my new baby arrived, I thought I would, for sure, be done with the binky by the time he was 1. Did I live up to my self-imposed limit?
No. He still has it. But I will say, as a precaution, I'm much more selective about when he gets to have a pacifier. Rowan can have his binky at nap time and for when he is winding down before bed time, but I limit when I will allow him to have it in the house. Of course, I make exceptions for when he's not feeling well or when he's having a rough day and his routine is off, but other than that, he knows where we keep it and it's on the shelf -- and not in his mouth.
Most experts agree that during a child's first two years, sucking habits are unlikely to cause significant damage to a child's mouth. But persistent and long-term sucking, especially after the permanent teeth begin to come into the mouth around age 6, can cause serious problems. Phew! That means I've got a little bit of a breather.
Does your baby have a pacifier? How long will you allow them to use it?
Image via Brad.K/Flickr