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Thumb-sucking Habit - 7 Things to Keep in Mind!

Dr. K R Parameshwar Reddy 90% (14 ratings)
MDS - Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery, BDS
Dentist, Hyderabad  •  12 years experience
Thumb-sucking Habit - 7 Things to Keep in Mind!

The habit of thumb sucking is very common in many toddlers and babies, but often disturbs the parents to a great extent. Before dealing with this habit, it is very imperative for parents to understand the cause of this behavior. The tendency of thumb sucking is quite normal for the babies as it makes them feel comforting.

Problems that occur with thumb sucking
There are certain problems that occur if the baby develops the habit of prolonged thumb sucking. The problem that occurs mainly on sucking the thumb for longer time is with the teeth of the toddlers which may result in speech problems. Some babies get over this habit of thumb sucking on their own without any adverse after affects. However, sometimes prolonged thumb sucking may result in irritation on the skin or lead to peeling off of the skin, causing discomfort and pain to the child. There are chances that even the nails on the fingers grow in a crooked manner because of infection caused by thumb sucking.

How to get your child to leave thumb sucking habit?

  1. Parents must in any case not force their toddlers to stop this habit or get upset with them, as it can cause the toddler to develop this habit all the more.
  2. A child mainly sucks his thumb for comfort, and the habit can be stopped by diverting their mind and offering the child a soft toy or giving them a special blanket.
  3. It is better to give the toddler something to hold which makes him feel secure and comfortable.
  4. It is very important to assess whether it is a problem before stopping the habit of thumb sucking. But if the habit continues, it may affect the alignment of the teeth.
  5. It is always better to make use of ways like positive reinforcement and encouraging behavior change in your child. Parents must set up a reward system and take a note of the days the child does not suck his thumb. It is important that parents praise their child verbally and give them some reward at the end of the month.
  6. The best and simple way to quit the habit of thumb sucking is to cover the thumb with a thumb guard or mittens.
  7. The best way to help your child quit the habit would be to distract him or her and involve them in activities that would require the use of both the hands. Parents can keep their child busy by giving them puzzles or blocks to play. If you wish to discuss about any specific problem, you can ask a free question.
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