Used too long, pacifiers might harm speech

If your child uses a pacifier for too long, it may prevent him from developing certain mouth skills that he'll need to speak clearly. That's the news from the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association.

It's already known that pacifier use (or thumb-sucking) beyond age 2 can alter the shape of a child's mouth, leading to dental problems such as misaligned teeth, overbite and malformed dental arches.

But now it appears overuse of a pacifier can interfere with development of "tongue tip movement" needed for the production of certain speech sounds.

"There isn't a gold standard in the pacifier literature about an ideal age to eliminate pacifier use. Opinions vary," researcher Danielle LaPrairie said. "Our study highlights the importance of continued research with pacifier use and the possible effects on speech articulation."

WASHINGTON POST

Be a Facebook friend

You're on Facebook. Your teen kids are on Facebook. Should you be friends? Yes, one expert says.

"The more you can key into your child's cyberlife, the better you will be at trying to keep your child safe and understanding your child's mind and emotions," says Ellen Pober Rittberg, author of "35 Things Your Teen Won't Tell You, So I Will."

But she says you should remember these points after you and your teen are Facebook-friendly:

• "Make sure your child isn't a bully or contributing on some level to someone else bullying, egging on a bully."

• "Make sure your child is not being victimized by a bully or becoming the victim of a rumor mill."

• "Make sure you're socially appropriate. ... You're not supposed to be cool. You're supposed to be a responsible, respectable, approachable authority figure."

• "Don't gossip or spread unsavory information about people." (This goes for non-Facebook communications, too.)

• "Look at your kid daily. You don't want to get in a situation where you're only talking to your child on the computer."

CHICAGO TRIBUNE