This article first appeared in the June 17, 2012 issue of the Straits Times. We have reproduced it for the information of those of you who missed it when it was published.
Now in his 50s, retiree B. Ye recalls accompanying his mother on her frequent mahjong’s sessions at neighbors homes. Tired from school, he would have his pacifier in his mouth and fall asleep there while she played. He was eight. “The aunties teased me and said I looked ‘cute but strange’,” he says. He gave it up at age nine when he got tired of the teasing.
Dr Elizabeth Tan, a specialist in pediatric dentistry at Specialist Dental Group, says: “Children should stop using the pacifier when they are between two and four years old. The sooner, the better.
Prolonged usage of a pacifier may cause the top front teeth to protrude and the bottom front ones to tilt inwards.
The child could also end up with a cross-bite, where the upper back teeth bite inwards on the lower ones. Eventually, his upper and lower jaws, teeth and bite will become misaligned.
A child needs the soother to make him feel relaxed when he is anxious about something. Parents need to pay attention to the cause of anxiety and try to comfort him or distract his attention.
Let him play with children his age who are already off a pacifier. This will assure him that the soother is not needed. Or set a day – for example, his birthday – as a Put Down The Pacifier Day. Hold a party for him to say farewell to it.”