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Pacifiers vs. Thumb Sucking: Which Is Worse for Your Child?

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New parents often ask themselves, “Is thumb sucking or pacifiers worse for my child?” Newborn babies are fragile, and it immensely important that we understand their habits so we can protect their health. Read on to discover the advantages and disadvantages of thumb sucking and pacifiers.


When considering if thumb sucking or pacifiers are worse for your child, we should explore their similarities and differences, advantages and disadvantages, until we have a greater view of the problem. One of the primary reasons pacifiers are better for your child than thumb sucking is that they decrease the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), according to the Official Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Parents sometimes prefer pacifiers over thumb sucking because it is easy to take them away from the child if it becomes a bad habit, whereas children always have access to their hands. However, pacifiers likely increase the risk of ear infections, according to the British Journal of Community Nursing.

Thumb Sucking

Thumb sucking gets a bad reputation as a nasty habit. Dr. Iannelli, MD, a Member of the American Academy of Pediatrics Section on Administrative and Practice Management, says thumb sucking creates an excellent pathway for germs and viruses to attack your child. It also does not carry the same protection against sudden infant death syndrome that is associated with pacifiers.


Thumb sucking and pacifiers both can negatively affect how a child’s permanent teeth grow, according to However, this is only an issue if the child continues to suck their thumb past the age of five.


There is no doubt that, in the long run, your child would benefit from giving up pacifiers and sucking their thumbs. However, since pacifiers help reduce the risk of SIDS, your child is better off sucking on a pacifier than their own thumb. If you are ever shopping for a thumb sucking glove, take a look at the offerings at TGuard.


SIDS and Other Sleep-Related Infant Deaths: Evidence Base for 2016 Updated Recommendations for a Safe Infant Sleeping Environment” from the Official Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics

Does Pacifier Use Cause Ear Infections in Young Children” from the British Journal of Community Nursing

Daycare Syndrome and Frequent Infections” from Everyday Wellness and written by Vincent Iannelli, MD

What Are the Effects of Thumb Sucking on the Teeth and Mouth?” from