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A quick guide to thumb and finger sucking and how to stop it…….

By September 15, 2019 No Comments

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Thumb-sucking is common among babies and toddlers.

It’s a natural reflex that is required for nutrition whether the child is breast or bottle feeding. It is also an instinctual response to calm and soothe a child in times of stress.

The fact is that babies begin sucking their thumbs even while they are in their mothers’ womb. This is completely normal and many will continue to do so until they become toddlers.

For some children, thumb-sucking grows into a habit, and this can become a problem, particularly when the teeth start erupting.

So when is the right age and time when a child ought to stop sucking their thumb?

Well keep reading to find out the detrimental impact of thumb-sucking and a few important tricks to stop it.

DAMAGE TO THE MOUTH

According to dentists and paediatricians, it is highly recommended that children stop sucking their thumbs by the age of four. But research shows that damage can begin even earlier. In fact, most of the growth and development of the face and jaws are in the first two years of life.

Now you might be asking, why the concern? Well when the permanent front teeth start to come in at around age 5, sometimes much of the damage to the teeth and jaws have already been done (don’t forget, the first baby tooth comes in at around 6 months). And some of the damage to the teeth may correct, however the bony changes tend to be fairly permanent.

Frequently, vigorous thumb-sucking can lead to dental and tooth issues. Sucking habits can prevent teeth from fully erupting, the upper teeth to to protrude forward and what’s called an “open bite” where the front teeth don’t meet when the back teeth are closed.

Sometimes stopping the habit doesn’t necessarily correct the damage, requiring the need for orthodontics in the future.

TIPS TO STOP THUMB SUCKING

Below are a few effective ways to overcome the thumb-sucking habit in your child:

PRAISE: It helps to praise your child when you notice that they have gone for some time without sucking.

ROOT CAUSE: It’s essential to examine the root cause of why your child is thumb-sucking. By understanding the bottom line, you’ll be able to address the problem.

REWARD: It works for most kids to provide a reward. Encourage your child to break the habit by giving a small toy or other rewards or whatever works for your child.

HAND WRAPPING: Be extra careful, but when your child takes a nap or sleep at night, a sock or glove around the hand can help stop the habit in sleep.

BITTER ALOES: Lastly, you can buy bitter medicines and put them on your child’s thumbs or fingers. When your kid starts sucking, they won’t like the horrible taste and will stop sucking. A word of warning though – some kids bear through it and get used to the taste!

Now, if you’ve made your best efforts, followed the tips given, and things still don’t work, it’s time to seek professional help.

A clinician who has special training in this area can help break the thumb-sucking cycle for your child once and for all.

We’re The Thumbsucking Clinic we are here to help – get in touch today on 47 55 24 55 or see one of the recommended providers in your are…. more details on our website!