My baby uses a pacifier or sucks her thumb. Should I be concerned?
Thumb sucking and pacifier use are normal for babies. It helps to soothe them and keep them comforted. Most babies who use a pacifier or suck a thumb do so when they are tired, sleeping, or in need of comfort. It’s a natural thing, and I think it’s great. Babies who are able to self-soothe tend to sleep better, are well-rested, less crabby, and interact better within their own environment. If given the choice between a baby who sucks her thumb, sleeps well, and learns well, who might need braces because of the sucking habit, OR a baby who doesn’t suck her thumb, doesn’t sleep as well, is tired and crabby, and still might need braces (for other reasons), I think you know my answer. Some kids do have problems that need to be corrected by the orthodontist with braces, but I wouldn’t let that worry me with my own kids.
When will this stop?
As your baby grows, you’ll probably notice she sucks her thumb less during the day. Eventually, the habit ceases altogether. Most thumb and pacifier habits have stopped by the time your child enters kindergarten. For those who make it past kindergarten, I would be happy to discuss ways that you can help your child stop his habit.