HELP!!!!! When do I take it away? Any tips for an easy transition? Should I go cold turkey? What about that thumb?
WE ASKED OUR VERY OWN DR. BAKER AND HERE IS WHAT SHE HAD TO SAY!
So, as a pediatric dentist, my advice varies slightly on what your little one's occlusion/bite looks like. If for example, your child has a large overbite, then it would be advisable to stop the binky sooner than typically recommended. The Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends to stop the paci by age of 3. If it is stopped by age 3, then most malocclusions caused by the paci (overbite, openbite) will correct. Usually a crossbite in the back of the molars will need to be expanded.
The good news is that paci's are easier to stop earlier than thumbs or fingers, can be kept cleaner than thumbs, increase salivary flow which is good and can act as a sort of mouth guard during the "getting mobile" and unbalanced times of toddlerhood. As far as stopping, there is no easy way, but here a re a few suggestions.
1. Cold turkey, which can be really hard on everyone, but depending on the child's temperament, may be the best option.
2. Cut the tips off the paci. This does not allow the suction to be created.
3. Depending on the reasoning ability of the child, do a "trade". Santa just left but holidays are a great time to encourage a child to stop. Next up is Easter, so together, you can decorate a large egg and place the paci inside for the Easter Bunny. In exchange, the Easter Bunny brings a special treat that the child can understand. My daughter loved the garbageman, hahahaha, so we prepared a gift bag and gave it to the garbageman who was notified in advance :) and we watched the bag go up, up and away!
4. Other families have "donated" the pacis to another, younger baby that REALLY needed a paci. It is best if you do this at a time when there is minimal stress and not right before a new baby is coming, otherwise, the new babies paci will be confiscated by the toddler.
SO, WHAT DO YOU DO WHEN YOUR CHILD SUCKS THEIR THUMB? YOU CAN'T TAKE THEIR THUMB AWAY!
"Age 4 or 4.5 is the perfect age to start trying. It is nearly impossible to stop a finger or thumb habit any earlier.
If your little ones is willing to try, and often girls are a little sooner than boys, try using a 6" ace bandage wrapped around her elbow. Of course, not too tight and please check again once she is asleep. What will happen is when she tried to use her thumb, there will be some resistance and make it hard to bend her little elbow to use her thumb, and this will help remind her not to use it. After the first night of leaving the bandage on (it is easy to remove), give her a reward like a sticker or popsicle. Gradually increase the nights to eventually a grand celebration wehn you think she has finally done it! The time is different for everyone, but I would guess 30 days straight is something to aim for. If she repeatedly removes the bandage, just stop for a few months, then try again. Once children start Kindergarten, there is added peer pressure to stop, so this time often works too.
2. Another thing to try is Mavala nail polish available at Sally's. It tastes terrible, but like Tabasco and hot sauce, kids can eventually get used to the unpleasant taste.
3. Finally, if all else fails, there are some professional habit appliances and rubber thumb covers that your pediatric dentist or local orthodontist, that is comfortable treating young children, may be able to provide. We've got you covered in that area so give us a call with your concerns and we will do our best to help you!