Can a Pacifier Hinder Speech Development?

I recently read a blog post about giving your baby a sippy cup on ASHA’s blog. I really enjoyed this post. If you have the chance, I recommend checking it out. The writer is a speech pathologist who works with children with feeding problems.

The blog post discusses why a sippy cup isn’t the best choice when weaning your baby from a bottle. The writer discusses that a sippy cup can cause problems with speech development. Along with sippy cups, pacifiers and bottles can contribute to speech problems if used too frequently or too long.
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First of all, pacifiers are a controversial topic. I personally don’t think they are bad when used with an infant. In fact, I think it can be a lifesaver for a tired mom or dad. A pacifier is a great way to help soothe and relax an infant. Some babies will sleep better with a pacifier. It has also been reported that the use of a pacifier at night can reduce the risk of SIDS in newborns.

One problem with a pacifier can be if the baby uses it all the time. This could interfere with opportunities for babbling. Babbling is an important part of speech development.

Another problem with bottles, pacifiers, and sippy cups comes when a child uses them for too long. The baby uses an immature suck/swallow pattern when using a bottle, pacifier, or sippy cup. This can interfere with developing the proper the tongue placement for a normal swallow and for producing some speech sounds.

Ideally by the time a baby is 12 months, he should be weaning from the bottle or pacifier. If your infant uses a pacifier, remember to give her plenty of time to explore her voice.

For more information about this topic check out Mommy Speech Therapy.

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