Babies need their pacifiers. These simple items allow them to suck one of the most intrinsic and basic human needs.
Pacifiers are anatomically created to be used during the first two years of the child's life. As a toddler grows up, parents start taking away the pacifier. Even if the pacifier is taken away, children get used to sucking their thumb, a harmful habit that can lead to bite problems.
The pacifier needs to be taken away before the toddler turn 3. This is the time when the child's jaw is developing and sucking on a pacifier could have a harmful influence.
Problems Related to Pacifier Usage
If the toddler continues sucking on a pacifier for more than two years, a number of problems could occur.
If the toddler sucks on the pacifier all the time, some of the teeth could be misplaced and pushed forward. These deformations can result in chewing problems.
When teeth get pushed forward, the child will start breathing through the mouth instead of through the nose. The mouth cavity will get dried faster, which increases the risk of cavities appearing.
How to Get a Toddler to Stop Using the Pacifier
You need to get your child used to staying calm without a pacifier at the age of eight months. This is when the child gradually stops sucking and starts chewing on food.
Substitute the pacifier with a rubber or gel toy that can be chewed. This will make the transition smoother and the child will not miss sucking on something.
The child should not be subjected to additional pressure when you are trying to take away the pacifier. It is inappropriate to start the process if the parents are quarreling or going through divorce, if a senior family member has passed away or if any other traumatic event is taking place in the family.
Get the toddler used to the fact that the pacifier will appear only at bedtime, helping it to fall asleep effortlessly. If the child is used to sucking on the pacifier all the time, it will get used to sucking on its thumb.
A toddler's need to suck on something is usually satisfied within several minutes. Provide the pacifier for brief periods of time and then take it away. Give the child the pacifier only when you are certain that this is the specific item demanded. If the child needs comfort, it will be better to provide a hug rather than a pacifier.
Try to take the pacifier out of your toddler's mouth, once the child falls asleep. Most children spit the pacifier after 15 to 20 minutes of deep sleep. If the child wakes up, leave the pacifier. Otherwise, your toddler will experience sleeping problems in an attempt to protect the favorite comforting item.
Many children demand their pacifier whenever they are bored or strictly on habitual grounds. In such instances, play with the child and do your best to keep your toddler entertained and happy.
Get rid of the pacifier all together. This might be very difficult in the beginning but for many toddlers, the strategy is more efficient than a gradual approach.
Use a simple trick. Make the pacifier boring. Use a pin to pierce it. When the air goes out of it, the child will no longer enjoy sucking on the pacifier. Ask a friend to dress as the Pacifier Fairy and to take away your toddler's pacifier, providing in return a wonderful gift.
Be patient and gentle with your child. Stopping the usage of the pacifier should not turn into a traumatizing experience. Comfort your child and provide entertainment that will make the transition easier.