Thumb Sucking

Thumb Sucking

When we went for an ultrasound for our first baby, one of the first things we were able to watch him do was move his little hand up to his mouth and suck his thumb. Most babies develop the habit of thumb sucking while they are still in their mother’ s womb, and continue for several months, or even years after they are born.

Some believe that thumb sucking is bad for babies and should be discouraged. There is no evidence, however, that your baby will come to any harm whatsoever from sucking her thumb when she is little. Most dentists agree that it won’t hurt your baby to suck his thumb until well past his 4th birthday.

The vast majority of children stop sucking their thumbs on their own long before then, so there really isn’t any need to do anything to try to make them stop sucking their thumbs. The urge to suck on things comes very naturally to babies. If, for whatever reason, you decide that you don’t want your baby to suck his thumb, your best bet is to offer a substitute like a pacifier.

Babies suck their thumbs for several reasons. One reason is because sucking calms them down and helps them relax and fall asleep. Another is because they feel stressed out, and yet another is because they are simply bored. While it may not seem like much by way of entertainment, an infant is still fascinated by his thumbs, as well as the various other body parts he discovers. Thumb sucking is great entertainment for a bored baby.

As long as your child has stopped sucking his thumb by the time he is four years old, there really isn’t any need to address it as a problem. Ironically, the vast majority of children who suck their thumbs past the age of four actually do so because their parents tried vigorously to make them stop earlier. This leads to stress in the child, which leads to more thumb sucking, which eventually becomes an ingrained habit.

So, when you see baby sucking his thumb, don’t spend any time worrying about it. It’s perfectly natural, and won’t harm him at all. Left alone, 99% of children will outgrow thumb sucking long before it has any potential to produce harmful effects.