Thumb-Sucking

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Here are a few facts that might put you at ease if your child sucks their thumb or fingers.

The habit is usually temporary and quite common in normal children. Sucking is a pleasant experience and reminds children of their moms and the comfort of feeding. However, forceful sucking can lead to ulceration of the thumb and wrong alignment of the teeth.
The habit generally disappears by the time the child starts eating solids.

Make sure your child is happy and there isn’t something on their mind

In some children, this habit may persist because of some emotional problem. Make sure that your child gets enough hugs and love from you. The problem is more common with bottle-fed children, but breastfed children may also have this habit. 
Be extra careful about making a thumb-sucking child feel secure. Give them attention when they need it. However, you don’t need to feel guilty. Emotions and security can be a factor, but most children suck their thumb as a habit.

Breaking the habit

Gentle attempts to wean the child away from this habit are always the best ones.

If you find your child sucking their thumb, start playing and gently take the thumb away from their mouth without making them conscious of it. If you make an issue of it, especially between the age of 9 months and 3 years, you are likely to make the problem worse!

If your toddler continues to suck, remind them that they are grown up now and don’t need to suck their thumb anymore. Praise them when they stop and again praise them for being so grown up.
Putting bitter medicine or a leucoplast on the thumb does not help much. The child may then start sucking another finger. If you feel this may help, discuss it with the child and explain that they might want to do this. They may welcome the help to remind them not to do it and to be grown up.

If the habit continues when the child starts school, we should give extra attention to this problem.

Whatever you do, make sure that you do not punish the child and especially be careful not to embarrass them in front of others.

Do your part in providing a secure environment and discuss the problem with your doctor if the habit becomes an issue.