Like most babies, your little one probably finds comfort in a pacifier or binky or sucking a finger or thumb. But what happens when your baby treks into toddlerhood? You can take the binky away, but they’ll still have their thumb.
While thumb sucking and pacifiers are perfectly healthy and natural, your child should stop both behaviors before or around the age of 3 to help prevent crooked teeth.
To wean your child from their sucking habit, it’s best to begin before he or she reaches 24 months
Here’s why - chronic sucking can cause children's permanent teeth to become crooked.
Here are some suggestions to stop pacifier use or thumb sucking:
- Limit pacifier use to nap time and before bed. If your child is a thumb-sucker, start by ignoring the behavior.
- Use a comfort item as a substitute. A soft blanket or stuffed animal are great ways to soothe your toddler during naps or times of stress.
- Use a toy or snack as a distraction. Place an obstacle in your little one’s hand to keep their thumb out of their mouth. You can also try a sock or a glove.
- Reward and praise your child for not using a pacifier or sucking their thumb. Positive reinforcement is an effective way to change your toddler’s habit.
- Break the binky. Poke a hole in the pacifier or cut off the tip. This breaks the suction and it won’t work. Your baby will think its “broken” and it’s time to throw it away.
- Have the “binky fairy” make a visit. Your baby isn’t a “baby” anymore! Since you’re little one is growing up, it’s time to have the binky fairy come and collect the binkies to give to new little babies who need them. Make it a rite of passage and celebrate your little one growing up.
- Cold turkey may be the toughest, but after 3-4 days your child will have completely forgotten about it and have moved on. Just make sure you’ve searched all drawers, diaper bags and sleeping areas to rid the house of any binky paraphernalia.
Visit your dentist or pediatrician for more advice about how you can gradually phase out the habit and keep it from returning. Once your child puts the binky and thumb down, you’ll be giving your tot 2 thumbs up!