Thumb sucking

Thumb Sucking


It is very common for babies to suck their thumbs, both at the toddler stage and sometimes even after they start school. In fact surprisingly babies suck their thumb in the womb, even before they are born. Thumb sucking is very common in babies. Babies suck their thumbs as they find comfort in it and feel secure. Thumb sucking can be a signal for hunger.

For children in the first year of life, sucking to fall asleep or for comfort is self-limiting and wonderful. It is a self-soothing activity, an indication of tiredness, boredom, and the need for comfort but not indication anxiety or nervousness in an infant. In fact, it is more a means to satisfy the need in an infant to suck (which varies from child to child) and it is exclusive of its feeding habits.

It is noticed that children who suck their thumbs sleep better at night, as one's thumb is easier to find than a fallen pacifier, by a child. If children wake up in the middle of the night they immediately need something to suck on to go back to sleep and it is when they are unable to find it, that they become restless and cry ending up sleeping badly.

Thumb sucking becomes a problem if the child has not, even after 5 or 6 years of age kicked this habit, or, if it is in some way hindering the normal life of the child like affecting his play activities or learning or causing social ostracism.

Treatment Options:

There is no need for any medical help unless and until this habit becomes addictive and obsessive and it is affecting the social relationships, emotional health and the overall development of the child.

The best way to prevent this habit is not by pulling out a child's thumb/finger from its mouth but to ignore this habit. A child has every right to suck his thumb if he feels like it, but if this continues after the child has started talking or even later stages then do not show affection or comfort when it is sucking but always show a lot of when the child is not thumb sucking. This is a time consuming process and you must be patient.

As a child if he sucks his thumb do not pull it out, you may end up getting into a power hassle with him, which will turn your child into a forced late thumb sucker. It was found in a study that late thumb suckers all invariably have been the product of well-meaning parents forcing them to remove their thumb from their mouths. Unless your child is old enough to reason with, any pressure applied against thumb sucking will only turn a natural developmental phase into an ingrained habit.

DISCLAIMER: This information should not substitute for seeking responsible, professional medical care.


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