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Thumb Sucking in Babies - Reasons and Tips to Stop

21 Jun, 2023

Thumb sucking is a common habit among infants and young children. While it may seem harmless at first, prolonged thumb sucking can lead to potential dental, speech, and social issues. As a parent or caregiver, it's important to understand the reasons behind thumb-sucking and explore effective strategies to help your child break this habit.

Why do babies suck their thumbs?

Thumb sucking makes babies feel secure. It has a soothing and calming effect when they are in need of something or going to sleep. This action brings them comfort. This action mimics the comfort sensations experienced while breastfeeding. Babies may suck their thumbs when they are hungry or craving nourishment. It is essential to ensure that your child is fed adequately so their desire for thumb-sucking will reduce.

Thumb sucking can become associated with falling asleep, they may rely on this action to initiate sleep or go back to sleep. Another reason is babies suck their thumbs when they are bored, anxious, or stressed. Helps babies to relax and deal with unfamiliar and challenging situations.

Is it normal for your baby to suck his thumb?

Is it normal for your baby to suck his thumb?

Yes, it's completely normal if she is a baby. It gives them relaxation. It is a part of normal development. One study found evidence that thumb sucking stimulates a nerve that releases psychological and physical tension.

When do babies start sucking their thumb and when do they stop?

This usually decreases after 6 months and stops by the age of 5. If your baby is above 8 years and they have developed this habit. You must opt for measures to help them get rid of it.

What are the side effects of thumb-sucking?

What are the side effects of thumb-sucking?

One of the primary concerns related to thumb sucking is the effect it can have on the alignment and development of teeth. Constant pressure from the thumb can cause the front teeth to become misaligned, resulting in an overbite. Thumb sucking can interfere with the proper development of speech and language skills. Extended thumb sucking can dislocate the positioning of the tongue. Continuous moisture from thumb sucking can lead to skin problems around the thumb, including redness, and irritation. These issues may cause discomfort and increase the risk of infection. Thumb sucking may limit the ability to explore and manipulate objects from their hands. It's important to note not all kids will experience this kind of side effect. The severity may vary from child to child.

How to help your child to break through this habit of thumb-sucking?

How to help your child to break through this habit of thumb-sucking?

  • Be patient and understand, it is a crucial time for the little one to get rid of this habit as well. Remember it is a normal behavior of babies they might take time to get rid of it.
  • Offer praise and rewards when your child refrains from this habit. Encouragement and acknowledgment may motivate them.
  • Observe your child’s thumb-sucking patterns and identify the situation or emotions that trigger the habit, once you observe you can easily address the situation and you will know what triggers them.
  • Provide your child with distraction, you can get them a nipple or a teether. It is a time taking process, gradually your child will be able to replace his thumb with something else.
  • You can put a bitter edible ointment on the baby’s thumb so whenever they try to suck their thumb, they will end up being disappointed.
  • You can distract your baby by playing games with them. You only have to make them forget, gradually this move on.
  • You can even start reading them books while they are off to bed. They will get used to books or stories instead of this habit.

Breaking the thumb-sucking habit is a process that requires patience, understanding, and consistent effort. By recognizing the reasons behind thumb-sucking and implementing effective strategies, you can help your child transition away from this habit. Remember to create a supportive environment and celebrate each step towards thumb-sucking cessation. With time encouragement and appropriate guidance, your child can overcome thumb-sucking and develop healthier coping mechanisms.