How to stop thumb sucking at different ages?

Thumb-sucking is a common problem in children of different ages. There are many conflicting opinions on whether it has a harmful influence on teeth growth.

How to stop thumb sucking at different ages?

Why do children suck their thumbs?

In infancy

We used to believe that thumb sucking is just a bad habit that appears in the period of breast-feeding and use of pacifiers. Now we know that this habit is of a different nature, anyway, in the beginning. The main reason that a baby sucks his thumb is the unsatisfied instinct of sucking — this was the conclusion of scientists and pediatricians.

Dr. David Levey, for example, indicates that infants who are fed every 3 hours suck their thumbs less than those who are fed every 4 hours. Babies who drink milk for 10 minutes suck the thumb more than those who drink for 20 minutes. Babies who suck on the mom’s breasts, of course, are less likely to suck their fingers than those who are fed with formula.

As an experiment, puppies were fed from a pipette, thus completely deprived of the opportunity to suck. As a result, the puppies behave the same way as babies with the unsatisfied instinct of sucking. They were constantly sucking their paws.

Babies suck their thumb even in the womb — so thumb-sucking is a congenital phenomenon. The instinct of sucking is of a different intensity in different kids. Some neither suck on the breast or a pacifier for more than 15 minutes nor they show a slightest desire to suck on the thumb. While other kids can suck for 20 minutes or longer at each feeding, and then they suck their finger for a long time.

Month 3 till1 year

Almost all babies suck or bite the fingers at this age. This is because their teeth start to grow. Now the gums are itching. In addition, during this period, your baby begins to explore the surrounding objects by tasting them. So it’s a good time to get rid of the habit of thumb sucking by giving your baby a teether, or a bread crust, or a rusk.

2 — 5 years

For kids from 2 to 5 years old, the reasons why they suck the thumb are of a completely different nature. It may be a habit, which formed in infancy, a reaction to the lack of attention and love, or just a way to cope with inner turmoil.

How to stop thumb sucking in infancy?

So, what to do if your baby sucks his thumb or hand? If this happens, it is better not to prevent thumb-sucking, but to find out the reasons for it. It is a good idea to prolong breastfeeding or you can start giving your baby a pacifier (latex or silicon?). And of course, you should also consider changing the feeding routine — make feedings more frequent.

In babies after 4 months, this sucking instinct gradually begins to decline, but every child is different. Some babies stop sucking the thumb at 7 months, others can’t stop even at 5 years old.

You shouldn’t worry if your baby sucks his thumb shortly before feeding. If the infant does it for a few minutes before feeding — it’s only a sign that he is hungry. Your baby is getting accustomed to a new feeding schedule. In a mom’s tummy the baby is getting nutrients all the time, now he needs to wait for each feeding — and thumb sucking helps him.

When a baby sucks his thumb after feeding or in between you should consider: either the baby doesn’t get enough milk or he has the unsatisfied instinct of sucking.

The same can be told if a baby sucks his thumb while he is sleeping. Try to find out the real reason for such behavior. If the baby doesn’t get enough breastmilk, consult your doctor, perhaps you will need to feed him with formula or you yourself should change your diet in a special way to increase the amount of breastmilk.

How to stop thumb sucking in kids?

Few parents know what to do when children aged 2 to 5 years suck on their fingers or other objects. Inexperienced parents often make fundamentally irrational steps to eradicate this habit. There are several nice ways to disaccustom your child from sucking his thumb.

Kids suck fingers to calm down, so it is important to replace this method of self-soothing with something else. Invite your child to some new activities: sculpting from plasticine or clay, doing puzzles or applications, etc. When the kid’s hands are busy he has no need to suck the thumb.

Kids often suck the fingers getting at certain moments, for example, while watching TV or listening to a story that you’re reading aloud. In such a situation, the easiest way to distract the kid from thumb sucking is to give him a soft ball.

If your daughter sucks her thumb — try making her an adult manicure, of course, with special nail polish for girls. Your little lady will not want to ruin her beautiful manicure!

You can attend a dentist who, along with the checking your kid’s teeth, can tell him that thumb-sucking is harmful for the teeth. Usually the opinion of such an authoritative person (all kids are afraid of dentists!) has a positive effect.

The emphasis on the age factors also affects a lot in your child’s behavior. Tell him that big girls and boys don’t suck their fingers, that this behavior is permissible only for babies.

You’ll have to use these red herrings regularly to get rid of thumb-sucking. Remember that the main cause of all bad habits in your kid is the lack of your attention and affection, so try to be with your child more often and show him by word and deed how much you love him.

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