Thumb Sucking: When is it Normal & When It’s Time to Stop

Thumb Sucking

Thumb Sucking: Is It Normal Behaviour?

Thumb sucking is completely normal behaviour for young children, particularly babies and toddlers. It’s a comfort habit often used to help the child to self-soothe and relax when feeling sad, frightened, or anxious. Generally, though, children will give up the habit around the age of 4 as they become older and more socialised.

The Health Impact of Thumb Sucking

Thumb sucking can cause a range of oral health issues to develop as the child grows, such as misaligned teeth, bite issues, and open bite. There is also a risk of infection which can spread from the child’s thumb to their upper respiratory tract, causing colds and other illnesses.

See also  Advocating for Your Child's Health: Getting the Care They Need in Childhood

When To Stop Thumb Sucking

For babies and toddlers, thumb sucking is normal and not something to worry about. It can often help the child calm down or fall asleep. However, when the child reaches the age of 4, it’s time to take action. If the child is still actively thumb sucking, it’s important to intervene so as to avoid potential oral health issues, as well as behavioural problems.

See also  Surgical Treatment for Mitral Regurgitation: What to Know Before You Go Under the Knife

How to Stop Thumb Sucking

Firstly, it’s important to be understanding and supportive of your child as they go through this transition. Healthy coping strategies should be promoted and emphasised, such as chewing on a teething toy to help the child feel better and distracted.

Most importantly, it’s the parent’s job to set boundaries and consistently remind the child that thumb sucking is not an acceptable behavior. Rewards and positive reinforcement can also be useful, particularly for children who are incentivised by rewards. Last but not least, dealing with the problem from an early age is key – the longer the child engages in thumb sucking, the harder it can be to break the habit.

See also  Mysterious Rare Infectious Disorders: Causes, Symptoms & Treatments

When to Seek Professional Help

If the child doesn’t respond to the approaches suggested above, it might be time to seek medical or dental specialist advice. This can be especially helpful if the child is causing damage to their teeth and alignment. From there, the specialist can give additional guidance about how to stop the thumb sucking for good.

Leave a comment