Font Size
A
A
A

Thumb-Sucking Vs. Pacifier Use


Topic Overview

Many parents of a thumb-sucking infant question whether they should substitute a pacifier for the thumb. So far, research does not show that one is preferable over the other. In addition, although parents can encourage a child to suck a pacifier rather than a thumb, they can't control which the child will prefer.

Although the advantages and disadvantages of pacifier use and thumb-sucking aren't always entirely clear, there are some general issues for parents to think about

The advantages of using a pacifier include being able to control when your child is allowed to use it, and being able to take the pacifier away when it is no longer appropriate. But pacifiers may increase your child's risk of getting middle ear infections when they are used after 12 months of age.

An advantage of thumb-sucking is that it may not interfere with breast-feeding, and children usually stop on their own between the ages of 3 to 5. But if thumb-sucking develops into a habit past age 4, the child may develop dental problems. Also, it may be more difficult for a child to stop thumb-sucking than using a pacifier.

Talk to your health professional about how long you should wait before introducing a pacifier to a breast-feeding infant.

Keep in mind that there is no reason to encourage thumb-sucking or pacifier use in infants who do not show a need. The sucking instinct in these infants is satisfied through breast- or bottle-feeding.

Related Information

Credits

ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical ReviewerSusan C. Kim, MD - Pediatrics
Specialist Medical ReviewerThomas Emmett Francoeur, MD, MDCM, CSPQ, FRCPC - Pediatrics
Specialist Medical ReviewerJohn Pope, MD - Pediatrics
Last RevisedSeptember 9, 2010

eMedicineHealth Medical Reference from Healthwise

This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information. Your use of this information means that you agree to the Terms of Use. How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.

To learn more visit Healthwise.org

© 1995-2012 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.





Medical Dictionary