Parenting“My 3-year-old kid still uses her pacifier in nursery school. Should I be concerned?”

April 12, 2018

Does your child still use his/her pacifier in nursery school? In Singapore, this problem is more than it meets the eye. We weigh in on the conundrum.  

When your child is first introduced to nursery school, he is a bundle of nerves.

One of the main culprits that unsettle your little one is separation anxiety. After all, this is the first time that your child is spending time away from his caregivers and stepping out of his comfort zone.

Nursery schools in Singapore do not expect you to wean your child off pacifiers

Fortunately, the good thing about going to nursery schools in Singapore is that most of these centres do not expect you to wean your child from his pacifier before starting school. This allows your child to bring in a comfort object to ease the tension of a new environment.

However, the weaning of pacifiers should be something that you think about before your child turns two.

Read also: Should Children in Singapore be Given Homework from Nursery Level?

What are the benefits and problems of sucking on the pacifier?

According to an article by the American Academy of Family Physicians, there are positive benefits of sucking the pacifier such as reducing the risk of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) and pain relief in younger babies.

However, these benefits are seen only in the first six months of the babies’ lives and they taper off by the 10th month. By the sixth month, the pacifier transforms into an “object of affection that gives your child a sense of security” and the negative effects of sucking the pacifier far outweigh the positive effects.

Prolonged sucking on the pacifier has been proven to cause speech problems, chances of ear infection and also malocclusion (teeth misalignment). Dr Pamela Ching, a dentist in Singapore identified several forms of malocclusion in children which are associated with prolonged pacifier sucking.

Some of these include the flaring out of upper front teeth and an anterior open bite where the upper and lower front teeth cannot touch each other. When these problems happen to your child, it is important that you consult a dentist early to evaluate his dental condition.

Read also: How Attending a Nursery School in Singapore Prepares Kids for School & Life

How can you wean your child before he starts nursery school?

Fortunately, there are ways that you can try before the problem becomes permanent. Here are some tried and tested methods that were shared on different Singapore parenting forums and websites on how you can wean your child off the pacifier before nursery school.

  1. Consider switching the pacifier to a blanket or soft toy that your child can cuddle with during bedtime.
  2. One parent commented that she cut the pacifier to half its size. Her toddler found it strange to suck it and held onto it during naps instead.
  3. Limit the use of the pacifier to home only and do not allow your child to use it in nursery school.
  4. Sometimes, your child is more mature than you think. One parent commented that she got her child to quit the pacifier just by talking to him about how he did not need it.
  5. The use of the pacifier may diminish when the naps start to fade out. One parent commented that she faced a lot of struggle with her son when she forcibly restricted the use of the pacifier. Later, when her son no longer napped, he fell straight asleep at night without the use of the pacifier because he was too tired.
  6. Most importantly, praise your child or use a reward chart to celebrate the days that he does not use the pacifier. Avoid scarring your child emotionally with the use of punishment.

Using these strategies, do consider coming up with a plan to wean your child before he starts nursery school.

Read also: Learning Milestones Checklist for Toddlers Who Are Attending Nursery in Singapore

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