All About Toddlers and Pacifiers
Many children use pacifiers well into their toddler and even into preschool years to soothe and calm themselves. Experts feel that toddlers hold onto pacifiers because it relieves stress, helps them adjust to certain situations, and it’s used as a transitional object. It’s completely normal for your child to crave the comfort pacifiers delivers to them as they venture out into the world. Most pacifier users abandon their plugs by age four or five and the majority of kids stop sucking on them before then.
With that said, there are plenty of reasons to start the process now rather than later. For instance, there’s an increased chance of ear infections in long-term pacifier users. If your child is prone to them, ditch the pacifier now to provide them the relief they need. When your child enters their preschool years, the development of language can be slowed temporarily because the pacifier sucks the mouth in an unnatural position, making it more difficult to develop the critical tongue and lip muscles they need to speak.
If you’re not ready to call the pacifier police (and for your sanity), consider these steps for making the big day that much closer:
- Give Them Limits. If you haven’t done so yet, give your pacifier user times when she can use it and when she can’t. Let her only use it when driving for long car rides or for nap time (she can put her pacifier to sleep).
- Keep Her Mouth Full. While she may be asking for her pacifiers consistently, distract her and ask her questions to strike up new conversations. Start to sing different songs, make faces with her or have her use her mouth, sucking on a natural sucker. You can also give little snacks throughout the day (which is recommended).
- Give Her Lots Of Love. When you’re trying to decrease the use of a transitional object, you’ll want to provide extra comfort. Give her lots of attention when she’s tired, cranky or upset. Distract her by reading different books and asking her questions.
- Keep Her Safe. Keep the pacifier if you outside or playing games that require your little one to run or jump. Never keep pacifier on a string around the neck or if your child bit into it, throw it away.