Pacifier or thumb? It could impact speech development

By Layron Livingston - bio | email
Posted by Ellen Krafve - bio | email

TYLER, TX (KLTV) - The choice has plagued parents for generations. Pacifier or thumb? Fueling the debate, some new research suggests sucking a pacifier or thumb can effect your child's speech development.

"She's not insanely attached to it," said Deana Cartwright, whose daughter uses a pacifier. "She only gets it when she gets sleepy or tired because she's just...horrible."

But, is "Pacie" doing 20-month-old Madalyn Cartwright more harm than good?

"It worries me a little bit because she should be saying a few more words that what she's saying," said Cartwright.

The study finds kids who used pacifiers, or sucked their fingers for more than three years were three times as likely to develop speech problems later in life.

"When you first start babbling and making noises, those noises can't come out and be made appropriately if you have a pacifier in your mouth," said Stacy Crawley, a speech pathologist with East Texas Children's Therapy Services in Tyler.

She says limited use for, say, sleep, or calming is okay. But, she says speech problems are not be the only developmental concerns.

"It's a fine motor coordination...crawling...rolling over to grab something," said Crawley. "If you're pacified with what you have, you're not going to be motivated to get something different."

Then, there are dental concerns.

"Open bite, overbite, or under bite...your tongue gets accustomed to going through your teeth so you could have mispronunciations...of your 'S's' and your 'Sh's'," explained Crawley.

April McDonald says for now, her six-week-old daughter Evelyn gets to keep hers.

"I've seen too many five-year-olds walking around with a pacifier, and that's irritating," said McDonald.

They way she can hear little Evelyn's first words as quickly and as clearly as possible.

"[It will] probably [be] dad," she laughed.

The study looked at bottle use. It found delaying bottle use until at least nine months old decreased the risk of developing a speech disorder.

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