Pacifier Versus Thumb Sucking

There have been many debates over whether thumb sucking or pacifier use is better for children.  Some argue for the former, sighting that fingers and thumbs are always with a child and therefore provide instant comfort independent from outside guidance.  This being the case creates a harder habit to break as the child grows up.  Others argue that pacifier use is just as bad if not worse because parents tend to place the pacifier in an infact/toddler’s mouth whenever they are crying or distressed.  While it does sooth the infant/toddler, it is also a continual reinforcement that carries on into childhood.

While I acknowledge this debate, I do not have strong feelings on one side of the argument or the other.  However I do disagree with parents who try to keep their baby from ever sucking thumbs or pacifiers.  Sucking is a natural way to decrease anxiety.  As far as the arguments against sucking for dental reasons, I would like to point out that as a society obsessed with perfect teeth most children in the US have braces anyway, so it doesn’t seem to be that big of an issue.  I also understand that thumb sucking occasionally carries over into adulthood.  This seems reasonable as long as the sucking is a choice and not an absolute necessity.  While I am not a doctor, and do not have research to back up this statement, I believe that obsessive thumb sucking continuing into late childhood may be due to psychological problems and may need medical help.

http://pediatrics.about.com/od/infants/i/06_thumb_v_paci_2.htm

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-Andrea Hoffman

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~ by happysprinkles on September 20, 2009.

2 Responses to “Pacifier Versus Thumb Sucking”

  1. I have a strong opinion of how thumb and pacifier sucking should be handled because of a family experience. I have a second cousin who was allowed to suck his thumb and used a bottle well after the usual accepted amount of time. It resulted in all of his top front baby teeth having to be pulled. He is now in kindergarten as still toothless. Thumb and pacifier sucking can result in far more extreme outcomes than just braces. He is constantly ridiculed for his lack of teeth and his parents are not in a socioeconomic class that can afford implants or false teeth at this point.

    K. Hasiak

  2. I’ve had friends growing up that had the same problem as your second cousin. Children’s front teeth start to protrude out and can result in having to get braces, or apparently even having them removed. My two-year old nephew is a thumb sucker and does it so often that he has a callus on the lower joint of his thumb. Although our mothers usually say that kids will grow out of thumb sucking, it’s obvious that not all do. But how do you stop a child from sucking his thumb? Would it be too harsh of a parent to constantly reprimand a child when he or she sucks their thumb? I have yet to how it will happen with my nephew but it seems like it’s going to be up to him.
    kathy phan

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