While thumb sucking provides comfort to the baby, it can cause orthodontia problems, when not treated at the right time. Glance through this write-up to find solutions for thumb sucking problems.

Baby Thumb Sucking Problem: How to Wean Your Child Off Thumb Sucking

Now that your teeny-weeny is out of your womb, you are thrilled to hold your creation close to your heart. And in no time, the little bud starts discovering its toes and fingers. It is through this observation that the baby gives a try at its thumb by digging it right into its mouth. This is a general sight when the baby breaks off its first teeth, around the sixth month, and feels uneasy due to its swollen gums. Thumb sucking not just lets the baby find comfort in easing its irritation, but also assists in differentiating between what is pleasant and what is unpleasant. Say, for instance, when a baby gets its gums on an ice cube or cool teething ring, it finds it comfortable but when the same gums get hold on a hard plastic toy, it causes discomfort. As such, sucking becomes a feeling of comfort and reassurance with time, which helps the babies to relax and induce sleep. It is due to this reason why most of you notice your babies sucking their thumb while falling asleep. Besides, babies, who suck their thumb, fall asleep easily, and can put themselves back to sleep quicker. Nevertheless, if that cute-to-look thumb sucking habit subsides when your child is still young, it is not a problem, however, if your child does not stop his thumb sucking for very long, it can interfere with proper mouth growth and teeth alignment, and cause changes in the roof of the mouth. However, do not hit the panic button. With some encouragement from your side at an early age, you can kick the thumb-sucking habit out but for that, you are the best to decide when the time is right.

Baby Thumb Sucking Problem: How to Wean Your Child Off Thumb Sucking
Image Credit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q_u8HtNgBv8

Why do babies suck their thumb?

Little ones are born with a desire to suck. After all that is the only way they get their nourishment from bottle or breast. Babies also find it soothing and even when the feeding session is over, they have this urge to suck. Some babies satisfy their sucking needs by pacifiers and the others find comfort in sucking onto their fingers or thumb.

When does thumb sucking stop? (At what age will my child stop sucking their thumb?)

The fear of long-term damages that thumb sucking might cause to your baby’s teeth, jaw or mouth is understandable. However, going by the American Dental Association (ADA), majority children quit thumb sucking on their own by the time they reach 2 to 4 years of age. But in case your bundle of joy has been sucking thumb even after the age of 4, do not panic, and do not try to get rid of the habit forcefully or aggressively by creating too much pressure on your child. But you should persistently try to break the habit at the right time.

Baby Thumb Sucking Problem: How to Wean Your Child Off Thumb Sucking

How To Help Your Child Get Rid of Their Thumb Sucking Habit

Start Off Easy

Initially, start off with suggesting your child to stop their thumb sucking habit in public, or any other time when they are most likely to comply with their practice. Let them know how atrocious it looks while practicing such a habit amongst strangers, friends and relatives. After you have achieved success with this idea, you can move on with targeting the times when the habit is most ingrained, say during a nap or at bedtime.

Have a Conversation

You know that it is a problem and want to stop your child from getting hooked to it but then attacking on the habit or forcing the child to stop the same will only irritate him and turn him fidgety. Instead, address the problem to the child when he is in the perfect mood to listen and understand your talk. Wait and look out for a strategy that will automatically induce the child to quit such behaviour. Bank on the time when your child himself comes up to say you that he was teased in school because of the habit. Since he is emotionally weak at this point, it would be best to make him understand that the teasing might continue if he does not give up on his habit.

Never Pull

While dealing with thumb sucking problem of your child, avoid pulling your child’s thumb or finger from the mouth. Doing so can cause damage to the teeth or finger of your child, particularly if he has a strong suction or has teeth. As an alternative, it is better to ask and request your kid to stop this habit. Also, remember, by forcing the finger out, your child may get aggravated.

Weaken the Habit

If you are unable to reduce his habit of sucking the thumb, try distracting him whenever you notice him in such a situation. Get him busy in an activity that requires the use of both his hands, particularly before his nap and bedtime. You can ask him to read a book or hug a stuffed animal with each arm.

Baby is Hungry

It is very much possible that your kid places his thumb in the mouth to display feelings of hunger. If you can notice this signal from your little one, you can feed him whenever he feels hungry. This will help your child stop thumb sucking.

Finger Guard

You may use a childproof, chemical-free kits that are designed and available online to help your child prevent thumb sucking. Some of them are in form of flexible gloves while others are made of plastic. However, these are very noticeable and it might get difficult for your child to use it while they are eating or are at play.

Reward Your Child

Children, who persist on their habit of sucking the thumb, can be encouraged to do so through a reward-based system. Game-playing has often been successful with eliminating bad habits within kids. Buy a calendar and paste it on the refrigerator. For every day that you do not spot your child sucking his thumb, put a smiley-face on that date on the calendar. After the end of a particular period - say one month - you can reward him modestly with a toy or dinner at his favourite restaurant. Offer to double the reward if he agrees to and stops his habit during the most challenging times.


It is not anything to get worked up if your child sucks its thumb. Thumb sucking is not a serious issue, only if you learn how to help your child get over this problem. I do understand that this behaviour can be stressful for parents especially when your child has entered kindergarten. But remember patience and persistence is the key. If you are also worried about the consequences thumb sucking may have on your child’s teeth, it is advisable to book an appointment with your dentist. Do not put too much pressure on your child to kick this habit out as it might delay the process. Try to limit the time, avoid confrontations, talk to the child, or come up with creative and rewarding ways to get rid of the habit. You child’s thumb sucking habit is sure to fade off, until then keep trying. Happy Parenting!

Article Source:

Sources –

By Age Group
Development Stages
Baby Products