Sucking is a natural reflex and, for many babies, a source of comfort. So there’s usually no need to worry if your newbie is a thumb-sucker or pacifier aficionado. In fact, researchers have found that using a pacifier can reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). The American Academy of Pediatrics even recommends offering, but not forcing, a pacifier at naptime and bedtime. Just be sure to use a one-piece model with ventilation holes and a shield that’s wider than baby’s mouth.
After your child’s permanent teeth come in, sucking can interfere with proper tooth alignment, but most children give up their thumbs and pacifiers before then—between the ages of 2 and 4. Talk to your doctor or dentist if yours has trouble breaking the habit.
Tip: To avoid spreading cavity-causing bacteria, don’t pop the pacifier into your own mouth to clean it.