Thumb Sucking Habit In Kids: How To Stop Thumb-Sucking In Babies?

While babies can suck on anything including cloths, toys and their fingers, thumb sucking is a way of pleasing themselves. Thumb sucking is a natural reflex which develops in babies as an attempt to soothe or comfort self. Various studies have also shown that children that suck their thumb, especially when they are tired are more likely to fall asleep quickly, compared to their non-thumb sucking peers.

Experts also suggest that children who suck their thumbs are more comfortable and less cranky compared to their non-thumb sucking peers. However, if the child continues to suck their thumb beyond a particular age, it may interfere with their development and hence it is important to ensure that babies stop sucking their thumb after a particular age. Here are some tips on how to stop thumb sucking in babies.

There are several reasons why children suck their thumb. Sucking thumb is a natural reflex and it helps babies relax and deal with uncomfortable situations in their life. Children suck their thumb when they are tired, hungry, sleepy or irritated.

However, as per the American Dental Association, thumb sucking can interfere with normal development of teeth and their alignment, if the baby continues to suck his thumb after the permanent teeth come in. While the severity of the dental problem would depend upon the extent of thumb sucking, parents invariably need to help their children get over this habit especially to avoid dental problems.

How To Stop Thumb-Sucking Habit In Kids?

Normally, the permanent tooth start coming in by the age of five years and fortunately most babies would have given up the habit of sucking their thumbs long before this age. However, if your child continues to suck her thumb, here are some important tips on how to help them get rid of this habit,

  • One of the very useful techniques is to remind your child to give up thumb sucking. Nagging the child can be annoying for her and you. Alternatively explain to her how she has grown over the years and how you are proud of her. Tell her that she no longer uses diapers, high chairs or bottles. Ask her if there is something else she would want to give up. If she can’t think of it, suggest thumb sucking.
  • Whenever you notice your child sucking her thumb try to distract her with some form of activity which may require her to use both of her hands. Hugging or holding the book just prior to bed time will help weaken the habit eventually.
  • Your child tends to respect authority figures in her life including her pediatrician, dentist or even school teacher. Request them to help you and your child give up this habit.
  • Consider using peer pressure. Have frequent sleepover with friends and your kid will probably be motivated to give up sucking her thumb.
  • Finally help her notice whenever she unconsciously starts sucking her thumb. Use a secret signal message between the two of you. By using such secret signals, you could help your child get rid of the habit without feeling ashamed.

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