Soothing through Sucking

All babies need to suck and yours may need more than breastfeeding or bottle-feeding allow.  Some babies suck on their thumbs and fingers even before they are born.  They seem to have a natural knack for comforting themselves in this way.  If your baby hasn’t found his own thumbs, and you don’t want to introduce a pacifier you can help him by gently guiding it into his mouth.  This might quiet him, when he’s fussy.

According to the American Dental Association, there is little reason to fear that thumb or finger sucking will harm a baby’s teeth or jaws.  It shouldn’t be a matter of concern unless the child is three or four years old and sucking with a great deal of pressure on the jaws.  Most babies give up the habit when they’re between eighteen months and two years of age.  The practice may crop up infrequently after that point, especially at times of fatigue, stress or fear, but this is natural and shouldn’t be discouraged.

Pacifiers can be helpful for babies who have a great need to suck.  Orthodontic pacifiers on the market are designed not to interfere with the development of your child’s teeth and haw.  It is easier to wean a child from a pacifier than from a thumb.  However, removing a pacifier doesn’t mean a child won’t suck his thumb.  To use a pacifier effectively be careful not to pop it in whenever your child seems fussy.  Make sure all of her basic needs, such as food, dry clothes and cuddling are met first.  Try to avoid getting your child in the habit of falling asleep with the pacifier in his mouth.  Remove the pacifier when he is sleepy and allow him to completely fall asleep without it.

One Response to “Soothing through Sucking”

  1. Kerrie says:

    i have a 6 month old and he likes to suck on things. However he wont suck on a pacifier. He will suck on my neck or my fingers, every so often he sucks his first two fingers. how do i get him to take a pacifier. Don’t get me wrong, i hate to get him started on it only to take it away down the road, but im extremly tired of the hickeys. Please help.

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