Skip to content

Se Habla Espanol

(281) 528-9900

For most young children, sucking on thumbs, fingers, or pacifiers is a natural way to self-soothe and to learn about the world around them.  

These habits only become a problem when a child reaches the age at which he/she should have outgrown this need.  

At What Age Should My Child Stop Sucking His/Her Thumb or Using a Pacifier?

We recommend limiting pacifier use and thumb sucking if your child is over two years old.  To prevent dental problems, they should have outgrown the habit altogether by the age of four.  See below for tips if your child is reluctant.

Does Thumbsucking and Pacifier Use Affect My Child's Teeth?

Thumb-sucking or pacifier use past the age of five, and particularly when adult teeth begin to emerge, can cause dental complications. 

Additionally, the intensity of the sucking is an important factor.  Children who aggressively suck on a paci or thumb, can begin to develop dental problems at an earlier age. Aggressive sucking can also cause ulcers or sores to form in the mouth. 

Damage can be difficult to detect by a parent because it tends to occur gradually over a long period of time.  The main issues of concern are the growth and alignment of the teeth and the changes to the structure and shape of the roof of the mouth and jaw.

How Can I Help My Child Stop Thumb or Pacifier Sucking?

Many children give up thumb sucking or pacifier use on their own, or with very gentle encouragement.  Be sure not to punish a child for these behaviors as that can actually worsen the situation and make it a more arduous task in the long run.  

Here are some simple tips for kids that have a harder time letting go of their paci or thumb-sucking habit:

  • Start a reward system similar to those used when potty training.  Create a game where your child can earn points toward a desired reward.


  • Often thumb sucking or paci use is triggered by external stressTry to anticipate these times and provide comfort as much as possible.


  • Ask your dentist to speak with your child about stopping.  Sometimes kids take advice more seriously when coming from their doctor.


  • Keep your child busy during times when he/she habitually sucks on a thumb or paci.  Keep those little hands busy.


  • Consider giving your child a transitional comfort item, such as a new stuffed toy or blanket.  

For a more in-depth approach to pacifier weaning, has a great article that goes more approaches:

There are two very effective methods towards the bottom of that page.

Scroll To Top