All parents, especially first-time parents, are faced with this dilemma: whether or not to use a pacifier , whether or not to let the child put his finger in his mouth. Insecurity can be great, fears and doubts are common and there are so many different opinions (health professionals, aunt, godmother, grandmother, neighbor) that the vast majority of parents ask themselves: “Which one is right? Which one is wrong? Which one should I follow? ”.
But why do babies and young children put everything in their mouths?
This is because in this phase, which goes from 0 to 18 months, the child has a greater need for suction. It is a moment of great importance for the baby’s nutritional and emotional development, and his mouth is the first part of his little body that begins to relate to the world. During breastfeeding , he receives the food, but also the affection and affection of his mother. It is from this little mouth that the child begins to realize that he has needs (such as hunger, for example) and that he can be satisfied.
When breastfeeding, the child calms down and has his tensions eased, and so he learns to control himself. It is the phase in which a large part of the vital energy is concentrated in the mouth region, and for that reason sucking becomes extremely pleasurable.
Up to what age does this happen?
As time goes by, sucking is no longer a necessity, but an attempt to obtain comfort, welcome. Whenever he feels alone, anxious , distressed in the face of an unpleasant situation, or wishes to heal his natural curiosity, the child uses this ancient habit and puts whatever is closest in the mouth, be it a toy, a finger or a pacifier, looking for these resources to feel greater security.
At around 3 years of age, the child starts to have other interests and satisfactions that end up naturally reducing this behavior. But, some of them do not forget the old companions as easy as that.
In such cases it is important to observe what the child tries to say with the continuation of old habits. She may be going through a more difficult time, which generates greater stress and anxiety, such as entering school or the birth of a little brother, for example. This behavior is likely to be transient and will disappear as you feel safe.
However, if this does not happen, parents need to intervene in a more assertive manner. Talk to the child in a delicate way, give him space to express himself, do activities that distract him. It also takes a lot of patience, dedication and understanding, as the child should never be reprimanded for sucking his finger or pacifier.
For children who suck a pacifier, this can be an easier task, as they do not carry them anywhere. Those who suck their fingers have a more difficult mission, because the “temptation” is present all the time.
It is certain, however, that this can be a great opportunity to give children more attention and offer a lot of affection, bringing the security and confidence necessary to take another step in their emotional development.
Oh, and it is also worth remembering that in motherhood and fatherhood, little works on the basis of right and wrong… what really counts is what best fits each family.