It’s true, the earlier a child stops sucking the better. But before 12 months, mouthing is normal and we need to provide optimum opportunities for kids to suck and chew on appropriate toys. By doing this, babies should turn into kids that have had optimal oral experiences and sucking habits lapse.
At the age of 4 and a half to 5 years old – the so called “Magic Age” children are bright and receptive and are often ready to stop their sucking…. This is a great age to begin a formalized program.
Any mechanical or aversive approach to stopping a child younger than 5 can result in withdrawals (Don’t laugh! Remember the body’s natural chemical opiates!) including bad behaviour and transfer to another habit (think nail biting, cheek chewing, clothes chewing).
As mentioned earlier, children under 5 years are little people, many are still babies really. Age 5 is the time when children can understand other people’s points of view. They are able to take a bit more responsibility and they usually really want to please. This is the best time for a behaviour modification program to be initiated and the best chance for success.