Why and How to Stop Thumb Sucking

Why and How to Stop Thumb Sucking

Nearly every child sucks on his or her thumb or fingers for a period of time during early childhood. For the child, thumbsucking is calming and comforting. Thumb sucking is something that most infants do in the womb, and the habit continues after birth. In fact, about 95% of babies will reflexively suck their thumbs, and they continue to do it as an ingrained habit or as a response fear, boredom, or exhaustion. The question for you is when and how to stop thumb sucking.

How Long Do Children Suck Their Thumbs?

Most children simply stop sucking fingers spontaneously. However, about 10% of all children continue to suck their thumbs long into toddler-hood, and 5% will do so even after the ages of four or five.

Do I Need to Worry About How to Stop Thumb Sucking?

Thumb sucking isn’t something to get panicked over, but it is something to keep an eye on. The American Dental Association recommends that you start working out how to stop thumb sucking at around age four. This is because thumb sucking can eventually cause a child to develop an overbite or underbite, and 75% of these can be stopped by early intervention with a thumb sucking deterrent. In addition to overbite and underbite, sucking the thumb can also contribute to speech impairment. Finally, it’s simply not healthy. The ordinary person is carrying about 3,200 bacteria on their hands at any one time. That bacteria should stay out of your child’s mouth.

How To Stop Thumb Sucking

Try to identify why your child is sucking his or her thumb. Is it for comfort, security, or safety? If so, try to preempt the sucking by redirecting to another activity. This can be an activity using the hands, learning how to put feelings into words instead of turning inwards with thumb sucking, or simply letting your child nap a bit longer so they aren’t so tired. Some children will benefit from using a thumb sucking prevention device, such as the Tguard classic. The TGuards and other thumb sucking appliances have been proven 90% effective in breaking the habit in children. As you use thumb sucking deterrents, however, be sure to also help your child learn coping skills to replace the comfort they’re gaining from sucking their thumbs.

A Move You’ll Never Regret

It can seem painful to deny your child the comfort of sucking his or her thumb, but in reality, you’re doing a lot to set them up for success in life. Your child needs to know how to deal with and express feelings; not just bottle them up behind a thumb in the mouth. You’re also protecting them from teeth problems, and since teeth are Americans’ biggest reported personal insecurity after weight, you might just be helping to protect them from a lifetime of insecurity.

If your child is edging out of the toddler years and is still thumb sucking, help them put a stop to it with thumb sucking prevention and deterrents. Help them understand how to deal well with fears and insecurities. By doing so, you’re setting them up for a successful adulthood.

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