How to stop baby from sucking the thumb?

Thumb sucking is a common behaviour exhibited by infants. It is mostly an inbuilt reflex in infants that help them breastfeed. Other than breastfeeding, infants use this reflex to self sooth and make themselves comfortable. It starts mostly at birth and continues till age 4. In some cases even fetuses have been noted to suck their thumb. Babies suck their thumb in case of boredom, fear, sickness and sometimes for mere oral stimulation. It also helps them be comfy and go to sleep. Come on! Now what parent wouldn't want that?!! It should be noted that thumb sucking, more often than not, is harmless to the child. Sometimes babies don't even suck their thumbs that vigorously.

 

So for the new parents who are concerned, it is perfectly normal!! Nothing to worry about! So until she is a pre-schooler it is recommended you wait it out. Pressuring your child won’t help her or you for that matter. If you are worried about future dental problems here is some news! According to American Dental Association, children can safely suck their thumbs or use their pacifiers till the age 5-6, which is till their milk teeth don't start falling off!!. However, they also recommend that its better wean them off at age 4, just in case! On one side they do help your child pacify them self, but after a certain age, mostly 4, it could get increasingly difficult to wean your child off the habit, especially if the sucking is vigorous.

 

Even though it is safe to allow them suck their thumbs till the stipulated age, there are certain cons that you need you need to consider

 

Dental Issues

The child's teeth alignment may be affected. There is a chance that her teeth may be pushed outward due to excessive thumb sucking.

 

Hygiene Issues

 As kids grow they touch, play in sand soil themselves. In such case there is a likelihood that they might put the same thumb into their mouths that was in the sand few seconds ago!! Oops!!

 

Speech Issues

 Due to misalignment of teeth there is a chance that the kid might develop a lisp later as she grows up.

 

Besides the above mentioned problems, kids could suffer emotionally too, as thumb sucking is mostly associated with babies and toddlers, as a result of which they are at risk of being teased by fellow schoolmates.

 

 

So how can we stop or little one from thumb sucking? Here are some steps.

 

Talk to them

You little one is now 4…she understands… try talking to her and tell her it is a bad habit. Tell her that her beautiful teeth will get crooky cracky if she continues. I am sure at this stage you will have already told her about germs and how they make us sick. Why not apply that for thumb sucking? Talking itself won’t do the trick, but your constant support and motivation will help her loads to wean her off the habit.

 

Reward them

 We all know reward goes a long way! A little encouragement on your end will help her cope. You could stick a star on her thumb or palm every time she avoided thumb sucking!

 

Distract

 Like mentioned earlier, it is an act by which they comfort themselves. Try to distract them in such case. Since thumb sucking at this age is merely a way self sooth or cope with a myriad of emotions, encourage them to use a squeeze toy as a substitute maybe.

 

Identify the root cause of sucking

 More often than not the reason for thumb sucking is hunger or fear…talk to them about it and tell them how thumb sucking is not a solution. Knowing someone is comforting them in time of need will stop them from thumb sucking.

 

No Nagging please!

 The whole point of thumb sucking is to pacify them self. So you losing your calm only makes them more uneasy and reach for the thumb or that pacifier.

 

Always remember that our little ones look up to us for support and encouragement. Thumb sucking is just a phase in your little ones development and with you by her side she will drop the habit like the drop of the hat!