What should I do if my child sucks his thumb or uses a pacifier?

The large majority of children suck their thumbs or fingers as infants, and most grow out of it by the time they start school, without causing any permanent damage. Pacifiers should be discontinued by the age of 2. Generally speaking, we recommend that you make every effort to wean your child from their sucking habit by the age of 3 or as soon as your pediatric dentist notices damage to the teeth and oral structures. The most effective way to discontinue your child’s habit is by reinforcing positive behavior. If your child continues sucking after permanent teeth erupt, or sucks aggressively, we may recommend a retainer appliance to help them quit the habit.

Chelsea Pediatric Dentistry recommends positive reinforcement as a starting tool in assisting your child with habit cessation. Please print one of the following charts and give your child a sticker or smiley face for each day they go without sucking their thumb/pacifier/fingers, etc. At the end of a successful month, reward your child with something they love (other than candy). Good luck!