This content uses referral links. Read our Disclosure Statement for more info.

Pacifiers and Language Development

     My 21 month old daughter, Lilly, does not say too many words. She has a total of maybe 10.  Some of her most common words are Mama, Dada, yes, Daisy, Sissy, thank you,  and this.  I am honestly not too worried about it.  She babbles all day, just does not say actual words, so we guess at what she is telling us.  I talked about language development in toddlers in a previous post, here.  I was thinking the other day though, I wonder how much pacifiers do have an affect on this particular developmental milestone.  Lilly gets a paci usually only at sleep times.  When we are playing in her room, though, she often picks them up and uses them, which I don't stop.  Also, we tend to give them to her on car rides as well, to help keep her content.

     Anyways I went online to research this, because that's the only way to get information right?

     After looking at multiple sites, some listed below, everyone pretty much says that there are no definite studies that prove that pacifiers directly impact language development.  It is said that prolonged use of this calming technique for babies can increase chances of ear infection, deformation of teeth and oral areas, and possible speech delays because it causes their tongue to lie unnaturally flat and leaving the child's mouth in an unnatural position.   It is common for parents to start with paci's starting at birth since sucking is such a natural reaction for babies.  It is calming and soothing for babies, which can help them be comfortable with different transitions in their lives.  It IS recommended though that they are weened completely from pacifiers between 12-18 months.  Ever try to tell a 2 year old no?  They are learning how to be independent and enforce their own wants and needs, so it may be easier to supplement the nite time pacie with a security blanket or a stuffed bear to cuddle before they develop that independence.

     There was a study done at Arkansas State University on this exact issue.  Basically they took 3 different groups and tested them to see if there seem to be any effects with using a paci.  The three groups were: toddlers who used it very little (few months), moderately (up to around a year) or extensively (a year and a half to preschool years).  After studying these groups, they could not come up with a definitive answer as to whether the use of pacifiers hindered speech development.  Which seems to be the consensus across the board with all the articles I've read.

     Overall, speech language pathologists feel that the use of pacis may have an impact on the language development of toddlers, but without and studies proving, they can not be sure.  Either way, they still suggest that pacifiers be given up around one year of age.

     After reading all this, I feel okay with Lilly having her paci (in regards to language development).  Although, they all make a good point about giving it up sooner rather than later, if only because it's easier.  I fully agree with this because my oldest, Ashley, didn't give up her paci until she was 3!

     What do you think about this?  Did/do you have a child that have used a paci for a prolonged amount of time?

Websites that I mainly used for my research
Baby Center - Pacifiers and Your Child
Heather's Speech Therapy - Pacifier Use: Is it Bad for your Child's Speech Development?
South Carolina Program for Infant/Toddler Care
Ohio Health - Pull the Plug on Pacifiers