Help Your Child Break the Thumb-Sucking Habit

Thumb sucking is a natural routine for babies to comfort and soothe themselves. In fact, by a few months old, many infants will begin sucking their fingers and thumbs to calm down, fall asleep, or simply to amuse themselves. However, as a parent, you may wonder at what point does it become unacceptable, and how can you facilitate the transition from thumb-sucking to other coping methods?

To help preserve your child’s healthy smile, we explore a few tips to help your child quit thumb-sucking before it permanently affects their oral health and development.

Tips to Stop Thumb-Sucking

  • During the typical thumb sucking age, teach your child that it is only a bedtime activity and not to be done in public. This can help make the transition easier when it is time to give it up altogether.
  • Substitute admonishment for positive reinforcement. Instead of criticizing your child for thumb sucking, recognize and praise your child for not indulging the habit. Your child should know that you are proud of him/her for growing up and leaving the habit behind.
  • Don’t coat your child’s thumbs and fingers in foul-tasting substances that are marketed for cessation of the habit. Instead, teach your child self-awareness. When you notice your child sucking on a thumb, ask your child if he/she is aware of it. This will help your child learn how to recognize it and put a stop to it.
  • Help your child understand that thumb-sucking is not something that should carry on in life by pointing out that their favorite tv/movie characters likely don’t suck their thumbs. By realizing this, children may begin to reevaluate whether they want to continue with the habit or not.
filed under: Preventive Treatments, Tips/Advice