Pacifier Use and Speech and Language Development

To use pacifiers or not to use pacifiers? That is the question…

If used appropriately, there is no evidence that pacifier use results in delays in speech and language development. However, it is recommended that daytime use of a pacifier is eliminated by age 12 months.

Benefits of using a pacifier (birth to 6 months)

medium shot cute kid with pacifier

  • Helps the child learn to self soothe
  • Helps reduce risk of SIDS
  • Pain management
  • Support feeding skills in babies with feeding difficulties

When and Why to stop using a pacifier (6-12+months)

        • Pacifiers should only be used at nap and bedtime and not during daytime hours when the child is interacting with others, playing and eating. 
        • Prolonged use of a pacifier can increase risk for ear infections. Frequent ear infections are linked to speech and language development delays
        • Dental problems are linked to prolonged pacifier use. Differences in dentition can lead to speech sound production errors.
        • ***Children who used a pacifier or sucked their fingers for 3 years or more were 3x more likely to develop a speech disorder***
        • Children go from speaking 1 to 250+ words between the ages of 1 and 2. Use of a pacifier or having anything in their mouth frequently during this time could limit opportunities for your child to speak. 
        • Your child may speak with the pacifier in their mouth leading to disordered speech and difficulty being understood. 
        • Eliminating the use of a pacifier maximizes your child’s opportunities to babble and speak. Having their mouth free of distraction increases their opportunities to develop speech and language skills. 

Have questions about pacifiers or Speech Therapy? Feel free to call us today at (405) 467- OPTC (6782).

By: Elizabeth McGaha

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