Thumb Sucking

Thumb sucking is a very common phenomenon especially among the infants. It means placing the thumb into the mouth and rhythmically repeating sucking contact for a prolonged duration. Sometime it is not only limited to thumbs but any piece of skin within reach (such as the big toe) and is considered to be soothing and therapeutic for the babies.

Generally babies develop this habit when they are newborn, dropping it around 3 months but again when they learn to grasp the objects at 5-6 months, they try to take every object to their mouth. This habit becomes more pronounced when they are teething, but at the same time it is also a symptom of hunger, boredom, shyness, fatigue and sleep. At this stage, not only it is common, it is also considered harmless in terms of a child’s growth and speech development.

Thumb sucking is a normal development feature which gradually disappears by the age of 3 years. However when it becomes persistent and compulsive in older children it is an indicative of a sign of insecurity, dependence or could be the challenges such as starting daycare or preschool.

What to do about Thumb sucking

  • First of all don’t worry too much! This is has been proven that most children can safely suck their thumb – without damaging the alignment of their teeth or jaws – until their permanent teeth begin to appear. (Permanent teeth don’t usually start to erupt until around age 6.) Observe your child’s technique. If she sucks vigorously, you may want to begin curbing his habit earlier, say around age 4.
  • Let it go. The application of bitter substances over the thumb and use of restraining devices are condemned. Similarly punishing your preschooler or nagging him to get his thumb out of his mouth won’t help because he probably doesn’t even realize he’s doing it. Plus, pressuring him to stop may intensify his desire to do it even more. It can also lead to unhappiness, restfulness and more insecurity. Never ridicule, tease, shame or give threats to your child.
  • Preempt thumb-sucking with other activities. Identify the times and places when your kid is most likely to suck his thumb – while watching television, for instance – consider distracting him with a substitute activity, such as a rubber ball to squeeze or finger puppets to play with. Children have lots of energy, give them paper, pencil, clay or mud  for modelling building block for keeping them occupied.

The key is to notice when and where sucking occurs and try to divert his attention by offering an alternative. Together, you and your child can find solutions that will eventually help him kick the sucking habit.

One comment

  • I also faced the same problem with my son vihaan. Earlier we were thinking that he might not be getting
    enough feed. But then the doctor told us not to worry he will grow out of it. Now vihaan is 3 and no more thumb sucking for him!!!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *