Skip to Content
Home > Patients & Visitors > Health Library > Thumb-Sucking Versus Pacifier Use
Many parents of a thumb-sucking infant question whether they should
substitute a pacifier for the thumb. So far, research does not show that
one is preferable over the other. Also, although parents can encourage a
child to suck a pacifier rather than a thumb, they can't control which the
child will prefer.
The advantages and disadvantages of pacifier use and
thumb-sucking aren't always entirely clear. So there are some general issues for
parents to think about.
The advantages of using a pacifier include being able to control
when your child is allowed to use it and being able to take the pacifier away
when it is no longer appropriate. But a young child who uses a pacifier may be more likely to get ear infections.
An advantage of thumb-sucking is that it may not interfere
with breast-feeding. And children usually stop on their own between the ages of
3 to 5. But if thumb-sucking is a habit past age 4, the child
may develop dental problems. Also, it may be more difficult for a child to stop
thumb-sucking than using a pacifier.
Talk to your doctor about how long you should wait
before you introduce a pacifier to a breast-feeding infant.
Keep in mind that there is no reason to encourage thumb-sucking or
pacifier use in infants who do not show a need. The sucking instinct in
these infants is satisfied through breast- or bottle-feeding.
Current as of:
June 4, 2014
Susan C. Kim, MD - Pediatrics & Thomas Emmett Francoeur, MD, MDCM, CSPQ, FRCPC - Pediatrics
How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.
To learn more, visit Healthwise.org
© 1995-2014 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.
Feeling under the weather?
Use our interactive symptom checker to evaluate your symptoms and determine appropriate action or treatment.
Our interactive Decision Points guide you through making key health decisions by combining medical information with your personal information.
You'll find Decision Points to help you answer questions about:
Get started learning more about your health!
Our Interactive Tools can help you make smart decisions for a healthier life. You'll find personal calculators and tools for health and fitness, lifestyle checkups, and pregnancy.
Send Us Your Feedback
North Kansas City Hospital.