When Should Your Child Outgrow Thumb-Sucking – What to Know

There may be a seemingly endless list of things that define childhood, but nothing comes close in terms of significance and ease of recognition than thumb-sucking. At the earliest age possible, babies learn and pick up the habit of relaxing themselves by sucking on their thumbs. This, in turn, leads to the childish habit that we all know of today.

Thumb-sucking is so commonplace that some parents would probably panic if their child wasn’t sucking on their thumb. Most images of babies, toddlers, and children are associated with a thumb or fingers in their mouths. However, as normal as thumb-sucking may be, most parents tend to worry about one aspect of the habit in particular: When is it supposed to be outgrown?

Thumb-sucking can be a cause of concern for most parents because it has been associated with children’s dental health issues. Most parents have no idea as to when their kids are supposed to stop thumb-sucking. But to make sure that a child doesn’t give up thumb-sucking too early or too late, it’s important to understand why it happens in the first place.

Why do babies suck their thumbs?

Thumb-sucking can be defined as a natural habit that babies pick up and develop due to the need to know how to suck when they are born for nutrition.  It also has benefits on their emotions and feelings. Often, thumb-sucking is used as a coping mechanism when it comes to dealing with stressful situations that require a bit more thinking power or are out of context. On the other hand, thumb-sucking also helps babies digest better by developing a constant flow of saliva that can calm down their stomachs if they run into tummy issues.

Are there any pros that come with thumb-sucking?

Yes, there are different pros to thumb-sucking aside from what’s mentioned above. First, it helps babies to manage their emotions and soothe themselves. They can suck on their thumbs instead of crying. Additionally, it’s much safer than a pacifier because thumbs don’t just roll off, hide under the couch, and become exposed to all sorts of germs. Thumb-sucking is also beneficial for babies because it allows them to manage the pain and discomfort of teething by stimulating their mouths to manage painful gums.

When does thumb-sucking become bad?

Generally, thumb-sucking shouldn’t be a cause of concern in infancy. However, it’s best to keep an eye out for sustained thumb-sucking habits in early childhood, and definitely before the adult teeth start to grow in. This is because thumb-sucking can tamper with natural growth patterns of a child’s teeth. It can lead to orthodontic problems that have to be solved with costly and intensive measures. The most worrying sign of thumb-sucking that you need to watch out for is the sound of a loud pop when your child takes his thumb out of his mouth. It’s a clear sign that your child is an aggressive thumb-sucker, putting him at risk of skewed tooth growth and changes to the palate.

What’s the best way to break the habit?

When it comes to breaking the habit, most parents tend to panic and stress about it. Sometimes, children don’t have to experience adult intervention because they drop the habit along with their dependency on bottles and blankets. Alternatively, if a thumb-sucking habit goes past the age of three, then your kid is most likely to drop the habit after observing that nobody else does it anymore.

When your child still sucks his thumb when he is already four to six years old, then it’s best to encourage him to stop sucking on his thumb. It’s important to remember that bringing up the topic should not be done in a scolding manner because doing so can be counter-productive.

Thumb-sucking is a normal part of childhood, regardless of what generation they’re from. But if it’s sustained for too long, then that’s something that should definitely be confronted head-on to avoid any complications.

We’re a thumb sucking clinic that helps to resolve thumb and finger sucking habits – get in

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