Should Parents Stop Babies from Sucking Their Thumb?

October 4, 2019
Babies usually suck their thumbs, or other fingers, because it helps them relax and sometimes it soothes some body aches.

Have you ever wondered whether we should stop babies from sucking their thumb? Don’t worry, it happens more often than you think. There are a lot of parents who asked themselves the same question. It’s fine if you’re concerned about the negative effects this act can have on your children, especially during their early years.

Almost 90% of children suck their thumb or other fingers. Some start doing it while still in the womb and keep doing it long after they’re born. Usually, sucking their thumb helps them feel more relaxed. However, some parents feel this is bad and worry about the infections or mouth diseases this can cause in their children.

Not long after they’re born, their mouths already have a diverse variety of microorganisms. When babies suck their thumb, this brings even more violent germs into their mouths.

This way, they can lower their bodies’ natural defenses and give them serious illnesses that may need vaccines or sulfonamides. To avoid this, keep their hands clean and give them balanced nutrition that gives their bodies the tools to defend themselves.

Should Parents Stop Babies from Sucking Their Thumb?

Why should I let my baby suck his or her thumb?

Most babies act on instinct or as a response to something. Though it may not seem like it, sucking their thumb makes babies feel calm, relaxed, and comfortable. It feels similar to sucking on the breast while breastfeeding. In many cases, it can also help them sleep or feel better altogether.

Should we let babies suck their thumb? As long as it stops before their second birthday, it’s OK. However, if it keeps going on long after that age, you should seek medical advice to look for any emotional factors that may be causing it.

What you shouldn’t do to keep babies from sucking their thumb

As a parent, you might feel desperate and try many tricks and ideas from days of yore. Usually, these aren’t all they’re meant to be. On the contrary, it can make things worse.

  • Rub your baby’s feet with chili, garlic, or other strong and smelly foods.

This method is very popular, but it can harm your baby’s health. Their stomachs are very delicate still, and by trying these foods so early in life, they could suffer from some kind of stomach ache.

Should Parents Stop Babies from Sucking Their Thumb?

  • Threatening them.

Some parents have little to no patience at all. In many cases, their frustration gets the best of them, therefore, they mistreat the baby. Making your baby afraid will never be the right way to teach him or her anything.

  • Painting their fingers.

Usually, paints can be toxic and can endanger your baby’s life. If you’re not sure about the ingredients in paints, don’t use them.

Should Parents Stop Babies from Sucking Their Thumb?

Possible physical side effects of thumb sucking in children

If children suck their fingers for long, this can have ill effects on their buccal health.

  • Deformities in their teeth and the finger they’re sucking.

One of the main effects that come with thumb sucking for long periods are deformities in the sucked fingers and teeth. Many children, while sucking their fingers, put pressure on their palates. Later on, this can modify the shape of that finger and make the teeth look outward, something that can be corrected only with orthodontics.

  • Infections in both mouth and stomach.

These types of infections are a result of sucking on dirty fingers. The microorganism can cause colic or diarrhea.

If your baby sucks his or her finger, you have to control that situation. Embrace patience and think ahead. If you’re persistent, you’ll have nothing to worry about.

 

  • Martin, R. E. (1999). Taphonomy: A Process Approach. Cambridge: Cambridge UP.
  • McCollum, M., and Sharpe, P. T. (2001). “Evolution and development of teeth”, Journal of Anatomy, 199 (1-2): 153-159.
  • Triglia, A.; Regader, B., and García-Allen, J. (2016). Psicológicamente hablando. Barcelona: Paidós.