Thumbs down to thumb sucking

  • By Team TDO

Children look like cute little angels while sucking their thumbs; but only at first. Soon, this activity that seems to give your baby so much pleasure, becomes a prime concern for parents. According to the American Dental Association, after a child's permanent teeth grow, thumb sucking can interfere with teeth alignment and cause changes to the roof of the mouth.

So, let’s understand what exactly is thumb sucking, and how can you get your child to break this habit.

Why does my baby suck thumb?

For babies, it is a natural reflex that may begin in the womb. Thumb sucking gives a soothing feeling to the babies. Some babies eventually develop thumb sucking as a habit, when they get bored, tired or anxious. Many babies suck thumb along with a complementary habit, say, of holding a button in hand.

When will my baby stop sucking thumb?

This may vary from baby to baby. Some babies may stop sucking their thumbs on their own, when they are toddlers. For others, they may continue to suck thumb till their school time, unless they feel peer pressure, which causes them to quit thumb sucking eventually.

How can I stop my baby from sucking his/her thumb?

Consider breastfeeding, as sometimes babies suck their thumbs when they are hungry.

Since thumb sucking is relaxing for the baby, try some alternative which substitutes this feeling such as massages, playing music, or singing to the baby.

Try to keep baby’s hand busy. This will help distract the baby’s mind from sucking his/her thumb.

If your child is old enough to understand, explain that thumb sucking is a bad habit. Try to limit your kid’s thumb sucking to the bedroom and not in public.

Don’t be too aggressive or stringent with your child for his thumb sucking habit.

When you sense that the child is in the mood to quit thumb sucking, sit with her and make her understand the ill-effects of sucking thumbs.

For babies that keep sucking their thumbs almost continuously, apply an adhesive bandage or tape on the thumb.

If your child still continues to suck her thumb, consult a dentist, as this may adversely affect child’s teeth.

Adopt a reward system. Gift your child with her favorite toy or a picnic, when your child doesn’t suck thumb for long hours.

Above all, don’t be impatient about getting your child to stop sucking his/her thumb.

Since thumb sucking is relaxing for the baby, try some alternatives which substitute this feeling such as massages, playing music, or singing to the baby.