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8 Ways To Wean Your Baby Off Thumb Sucking

Medically reviewed by Dr. Jennifer Mercier, ND, PhD
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8 Ways To Wean Your Baby Off Thumb Sucking Hyderabd040-395603080 July 3, 2019

Thumb sucking is a rather common habit in most children. This habit usually starts during infancy and may continue to a point where you may have to take things in your own hand to break the habit. What’s more? Sucking the thumb vigorously and frequently can also put your toddler at increased risk of oral deformities. Read on to discover a few tricks that may help your little one stop sucking their thumb constantly.

Table Of Contents

Why Do Babies Suck Their Thumbs?

Babies usually suck their thumbs as they have natural rooting and sucking reflexes. These reflexes cause them to put their thumbs/fingers inside their mouths. Thumb sucking is also believed to make an infant feel safe and secure. Some babies develop this habit when they are in need of soothing, especially while going to sleep (1).

So, when do babies begin thumb sucking? Find out in the next section.

When Do Babies Start Sucking Their Thumbs?

Babies can start sucking their thumbs from as early as the 29th week of gestation. This habit develops as they are born and may continue up to 2-3 years. However, most children stop doing this by the time they are 6 months old.

Thumb sucking is not a major issue in children. In fact, it is not of much concern until a child’s permanent teeth begin appearing. Once the permanent teeth begin to appear, it is best for your child to stop this habit to prevent damage to the teeth or problems with jaw alignment (2).

Most children tend to stop thumb sucking on their own. However, if this is carried too far, it may be time for you to intervene and help your child break this habit.

Listed below are some effective ways that can assist in stopping your child from sucking his/her thumb.

8 Best Ways To Stop Thumb Sucking In Babies

  1. Try And Limit The Time
  2. Warn About Germs
  3. Try Out Some Chewelry
  4. Observe When They Tend To Do It
  5. Praise Or Reward
  6. Avoid Using Finger Gloves/Covers
  7. Divert The Attention
  8. Be Patient And Wait A Wee Bit Longer

How To Stop Thumb Sucking In Babies

1. Try And Limit The Time

Start by limiting your child’s thumb sucking habit to the bedroom or before a nap. Try and explain to them that sucking the thumb is not to be done in public.

2. Warn About Germs

Warn your child about the germs on his/her hands and how sucking the thumb can cause infectious germs to spread and trigger diseases. The fear of ingesting harmful germs may make some children give up the habit of thumb sucking.

3. Try Out Some Chewelry

Switching to chewelry, which is basically chewable jewelry, can help your toddler quit thumb sucking. You may find many options for this online.

4. Observe When They Tend To Do It

Children tend to suck their thumbs either during a nap or while watching television. Observe your child’s favorite thumb sucking time. If it is while watching television, go ahead and switch it off for a few minutes. You can also put a piece of chewelry in their mouth during bedtime to help your child stop thumb sucking.

5. Praise Or Reward

Praise or reward your toddler every time he/she does not have the thumb in the mouth. Give a sticker for every hour your child goes without sucking his/her thumb. This may make them put more effort into quitting the habit.

[ Read: 10 Best Baby Product Brands In India ]

6. Avoid Using Finger Gloves/Covers

Don’t put on a pair of gloves/covers on your toddler’s hands to make him/her quit the habit. This will only increase your child’s anxiety. And when they are old enough, they may just remove the gloves and suck their thumbs again. Instead, help them out of it slowly.

7. Divert Their Attention

Try to divert your baby’s attention every time you see him/her sucking the thumb. Give them a stress ball if you think they are sucking their thumb when they are nervous. If the toddler has been sucking his/her thumb when bored, make the child draw, paint, or play with toys instead.

8. Be Patient

Remember, thumb sucking is a common habit in most kids. A majority of children give up sucking their thumb on their own with time. So, be a little patient and wait for them to stop it on their own.

While thumb sucking may seem soothing and calming to the baby in the initial stages, it also comes with its share of side effects. These side effects are usually quite gradual and occur in those children who suck their thumb vigorously and all too often.

What Are The Side Effects Of Thumb Sucking?

The side effects of thumb sucking are:

  • Jaw deformities as the child enters adulthood
  • Damage to the teeth alignment
  • Teeth may be pushed around, resulting in an overbite or underbite
  • Formation of a lisp due to problems with alignment of the jawbone
  • Alteration of the roof of the mouth (palate)
  • Bone deformities in the finger (3)
  • Spreading of infectious germs

Thumb sucking is a natural occurrence, and there is nothing much of concern if you notice your little one doing it a tad bit too often. However, to make sure that this habit doesn’t follow the toddler into the preschool and school years, you can use any or a combination of the above tips.

Do you know of any other tricks that have helped your child stop thumb sucking? Share your experiences and thoughts with us in the comments section below.

References

  1. Thumbsucking” American Academy of Pediatrics.
  2. Effects of oral habits’ duration on dental characteristics in the primary dentition.” Journal of the American Dental Association, US National Library of Medicine.
  3. DYSTROPHIC CALCINOSIS IN A CHILD WITH A THUMB SUCKING HABIT: CASE REPORT” Semantic Scholar.

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