Thumb Sucking in Toddlers – What to Do

Thumb sucking is a common habit among many toddlers around the world. It is a habit that is not related to any disability or sickness. It can be difficult to know when your toddler starts to suck his/her thumb or any other finger; you only come to realize it when you see him/her sucking.

Thumb sucking is in most cases a temporary habit. Most toddlers overcome it when they are between 2-5 years of age. However, some toddlers continue to suck on their thumbs right into childhood, which should be a cause for concern.

According to American Dental Association and other experts, toddlers can suck on their thumb without any problems. It is only when they turn 6 years of age when thumb sucking can lead misaligned teeth and/or jaws. This is the time when their permanent teeth start to erupt. In any case, not all thumb sucking cause such misalignment. It all depends on how your toddler sucks his/her thumb. Toddlers who suck on their thumbs with their thumb’s thrust are most likely to have misaligned teeth and/or jaws.

There are several reasons why your toddler can start sucking on his/her thumb and you need to observe when he/she inserts his/her thumb in the mouth to start sucking. It may be when he/she is sleepy, unwell, bored, scared or when tired. It is also important to note you’re your toddler may have started sucking on his/her thumb from the time he/she was still in the womb, something you should have taken note of.

There are several things you can do to help your toddler overcome thumb sucking habit, which can at times be a cause of irritation, especially when in public. The first of the things you can do is to apply a moisturizer on the specific thumb when he/she is asleep. Although this does not prevent the habit, it helps the thumb from becoming chapped.

The other thing you need to do is not to resort to punishing your toddler because of thumb sucking. Tying the thumb together with another finger or placing a bandage on the thumb is a punishment you must not resort to. You need to realize that he/she do not realize when he/she starts sucking on the thumb. Pressurizing your toddler to stop the habit can also be counter-productive; his/her desire to suck on the thumb will only increase.

The most effective thing you need to do in order to help your toddler from sucking on his/her thumb is to investigate why he/she indulges in the habit. This is something you need to do over some time so as to identify the specific thing or circumstance that forces him/her to suck on the thumb. You also need to observe in what kind of environment, place and time he/she sucks on the thumb. This should make it possible for you to figure out an activity you can engage him/her in with the aim of disrupting the desire to suck on his/her thumb.

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