Thumb Sucking

Babies start sucking their thumb in their mom’s womb before they are born. Sucking their thumbs provides them comfort and relaxation. It is a common harmless stage in your child’s development. Most of kids stop sucking their fingers at the age of 6 months but few of them continues till the age of four years. Usually they suck their thumb because they are tired, bored, sleepy, stressed or in need of comfort.

Thumb sucking can become a habit that causes dental problems. It can cause malformation in teeth alignment, provokes problems to the roof of the mouth, pushes the teeth outside and affects the structure of the jaw.

How to stop thumb sucking?

Many parents get concerned when their child starts school and he is still sucking his thumb. According to ADA, kids should stop around the age of 4years. If they keep on sucking their thumb when their permanent teeth appeared, serious problems can occur as teeth alignment issues and speech sounds formation.

To help your child quit this habit you can follow some of the following tips:
- Put gloves on your child’s hand or an adhesive around his thumb.
- Do a “Reward Chart” to encourage your child. Put a sticker every time you see your child not sucking his finger. For every 5 stickers he gets a gift.
- Use a special nail polish for kids, bitter tasting. Apply it every day on his finger and keep on for a month even if he stops sucking his thumb.
- Talk to your child and reassure him if you see him anxious or stressed.
- Distract your child every time you see him sucking his thumb. Give him some toys that keeps his hands busy, like blocks to build, train track, coloring, crafts,…

It takes time and patience to help your child quitting this habit. The most important is to praise your child every time you see him not sucking his thumb. Don’t embarrass, shout or punish your child. It will add stress and discomfort which aggravate the situation. Keep a positive attitude and your child will give it up in no time!