thumb sucking

Do You Need To Worry About Thumb-sucking?

There is a constant debate amongst parents that whether or not they should allow their babies to continue sucking their thumbs. There are both pros and cons of thumb sucking amongst children. Sucking of thumb is a very natural tendency for infants.

They suck their thumbs when they need comfort or even when they are bored. It is like the only action they know which engages them for a while. Normally the habit of thumb-sucking amongst children decreases after 6 months of age. However, some children carry on sucking their thumbs till they are a year old. Continuation of the habit beyond that age is a sign of worry.

Benefits of Thumb-Sucking

Thumb-sucking is kind an inborn reflex for infants. This is the way they learn to comfort themselves. This kind of sucking reflex guarantees successful breastfeeding.

Sucking of thumbs also help fussy babies to mellow down and fall asleep. The action itself helps the child to organize the bio-rhythms inside his/her body. Even after he/she is properly fed, some children will continue sucking their thumbs. But that does not necessarily mean that they are still hungry.

Babies continue sucking anything and everything that they find in their way. In a way, the thumb is the cleanest and the safest option possible.

Concerns about Thumb-Sucking

Till the age of 6 months babies do not normally develop teeth. That means that they cannot really chew. Therefore sucking is the only action they can perform. However, once they cross that age, the habit of sucking should decrease.

The continuation of sucking of thumb will disrupt the pattern of the teeth. It might also hinder the growth and development of teeth in your child. Toddlers who are still continuing to suck their teeth till the age of 1 year are at high risk of weakening the jaws.

If your baby does not get rid of the thumb sucking habit at an early age, then he/she will get addicted to it and will seek other oral gratification in the near future. Continuation of the thumb-sucking habit leads to addictive behavior amongst children when they grow-up.

So, it is important for the parents to wean the habit at the right time. The window between 6 months of age to 1 year is the ideal one.

How to Wean the Thumb-sucking Habit?

The idea is not to stress over it. You can wean the habit by distracting your child and engaging him/her with something else. There are many toys and puzzles with which you can do this.

The ideal window to wean the habit of thumb-sucking is from 3 months to 6 months. However, even if your child is not sucking his thumb during the day, at night before sleeping he/she might start doing it again. Do not fuss over it as it is a natural process which helps them soothe their nerves.

With proper monitoring and observation, the thumb-sucking habit can be weaned within a month or two.


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