Thumb-Sucking Vs Pacifier: What Is Beneficial For Your Baby

Thumb-Sucking Vs Pacifier: What Is Beneficial For Your Baby

4 Oct 2022 | 3 min Read

Reema Shah

Author | 740 Articles

Many parents who have a thumb-sucking infant question whether they should substitute a baby’s pacifier for the thumb. Until now, there has been no research to show that one is preferable over the other. While parents can encourage a child to suck a pacifier instead of using a thumb, they can’t control which the child will prefer.

Whether it is thumbs sucking or using a pacifier, things can get messy and that’s where a pack of wipes can come in super handy.

Pros And Cons Of Pacifiers 

One side to using pacifiers over thumbs and fingers is you can simply take away a pacifier from your child if he/she develops a prolonged pacifier habit. However, your child’s fingers and thumb are right there if they want to suck on them on the other contrary.

According to sources, orthodontic pacifiers are less likely to cause dental problems. However, according to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, finger, thumb and pacifier sucking all affect the teeth in the same way. Plus, most children stop before their permanent teeth come in and any harm happens to their teeth or jaws.

However, an older study suggests that using a pacifier continuously can increase the risk of ear infections. This could possibly be because the sucking motion might lead to blockage of the proper airflow through the eustachian tubes, which usually help to keep the middle ear open and clean.

However, another recent research found pacifier use to be one risk factor, of the many risks for ear infections. Another research found no difference in the frequency of ear infections among babies who were pacifier users and non-pacifier users.

thumb-sucking and pacifier
Both thumb-sucking and the use of a pacifier have their own pros and cons and hence neither of them is better over the other / Image credit – Canva

Thumb-Sucking Pros and Cons

One of the main reasons for parents to prefer finger and thumb-sucking over a pacifier is that your baby doesn’t require you to continuously put their thumb in their mouth anytime they need it. Using a pacifier can have you getting up several times during the night if your baby cries each time the pacifier falls out of their mouth.

Once your baby learns to find their thumb or finger, they will be able to rely on it anytime for self-soothing. However, thumb-sucking habits in children can be harder to break. Plus, thumb suckers are more likely to develop prolonged sucking habits.

It is important to note that there haven’t been any studies to show that sucking on fingers and thumbs offers the same benefit associated with reducing the risk of SIDS, which can be a valid reason to prefer pacifier use.


Both thumb-sucking and pacifier use in children can turn into prolonged habits. Sometimes they can turn into first grade or beyond. Hence it may lead parents to think that their child should avoid both. However, remember that sucking either a pacifier or a thumb is normal in a baby’s first year and the majority of them give it up easily.

Cover image credit – Pexels



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