Pacifier Use – When do you stop?

This question has popped up more and more over the last five to ten years as additional research has been released. Many new parents are wondering, “When should I take away their pacifier?” 

Pacifiers fulfill the need of a new baby’s innate sucking instinct. For older children, they offer a sense of security and comfort. In both scenarios, it is important to understand the possible effects of pacifier use.  

A pacifier can provide many benefits for your child. According to the American Academy of Family Physicians, pacifiers may lower the risk of SIDS, sudden infant death syndrome, especially when used while sleeping. It can provide a sense of comfort during painful situations such as blood draws or shots. In premature babies, sucking on a pacifier has been associated with increased success with bottle feedings and possibly shorter hospital stays.  

It is suggested that pacifiers have the most success when used in infants 6 months and younger. In an article, The Impact of Prolonged Pacifier Use on Speech Articulation:  A Preliminary Investigation, prolonged use of a pacifier (routine use after 18 months of age) led to various dental issues involving bite, articulation problems due to some of these dental issues, and increased otitis media (ear infections). In addition, the pacifier can decrease their ability to freely babble and produce vocal play, leading to possible expressive language delays.  

A great speech and language therapy blog, “Heather’s Speech Therapy,” provides some wonderful tips for weaning your child off their pacifier.  

  • Keep the pacifier out of sight. Your child is less likely to think he/she needs it if they forget about it or can’t see it. 
  • Begin by reducing the amount of time the child can have it, by finding certain times that the pacifier is allowed. Suggested times include nap time or bedtime. It doesn’t have to be taken away completely right away; it can be gradual. 
  • Stay consistent and don’t give in. Your child may try to push you for it, but be consistent. 
  • Find other things that can provide a sense of comfort and security. A favorite toy or cuddles. Nothing can be substituted for nurturing. 

Many opinions exist regarding pacifier use, and the optimal age to “stop” using them really doesn’t exist. However, the connections between prolonged pacifier use and increased dental problems, speech/language issues, and/or ear infections have been noted. Because of this, it ultimately is up to the family to decide what is best for their child. If you have specific concerns, make sure to reach out to your pediatrician, dentist, or speech language pathologist! 

Shannon Greenlee, M.A., CCC-SLP 

References: 

  • Shotts, L., McDaniel, M., Neeley, R. (2008). The impact of prolonged pacifier use on speech articulation:  A preliminary investigation. Contemporary Issues in Communication Science and Disorders(35), 72–75.  

Fun and Free Learning Websites for Kids

As a parent of young children, I try to limit the amount of time spent on electronics. At the same time, I understand that my children’s future is going to be filled with far more technology than I can even imagine. I decided that if they are going spend time on iPads or computers, I wanted it to be something that will actually benefit their learning. In other words, no more watching other kids open and play with toys! I have found some amazing, free websites that are great for children of all ages. They truly make learning fun and engaging. 

One of my favorite, free websites is the BBC Dance Mat Typing. It teaches even young children the basics of typing in a fun, dance format. My kids love it! 

Many of the schools’ curriculums include learning to code. I think I learned some basic coding in a college course (but could never quite get it right), but my 1st grader can code an entire video game. One of his favorite sites is CODEMOJI. I definitely had to watch the tutorial videos, but it is amazing how quickly my kids pick up on it.  

Another one of my favorite learning websites is PBS Kids. This site has math games, reading and comprehension games, and so much more. While many of the math and literacy games are geared towards younger children, PBS Kids also has Spanish learning games which are great for all ages (yes, even for adults). 

ABC Mouse has a free 30-day membership that gives you access to math, reading, science, and art games and activities. This site is geared more towards younger children, ages 2-8 years old, but I have found that our 11-year-old foster son with Autism also loves this site. It reinforces math skills he has while also expanding on his knowledge of reading and science concepts. I would much rather him engage in learning sites (even if they are “easy”) than watch the opening to his favorite gameshow for the millionth time.  

My personal favorite learning website is National Geographic Kids.  This website has information on pretty much any animal or species you can think of: insects, mammals, reptiles, birds, fish, amphibians, and even dinosaurs. What is more exciting is that they have so many interesting videos and activities related to state parks, countries around the world, US states, bizarre facts, space and more! I personally could spend hours on this site. My kids actually ask to look up information and then tell relatives about what they have learned (and that is way more rewarding as parent than hearing them talk about the mystery egg they watched a kid open). 

I hope you and your family enjoy this learning resources as much as we do! 

-Jessica M. Lenden-Holt MA CCC-SLP