When Should Children Stop Sucking Their Thumbs?

Thumb sucking is a common habit babies have that starts before birth. It can help them cope with stress, boredom, and can even help them sleep. Therefore, it’s completely natural and children usually give up thumb-sucking when they find others ways to comfort or entertain themselves (usually at age 2 to 4).

But like many parents, you may wonder if it is harmful, at what age it should stop, or what could happen if your child does not stop.

Source: Pinteres

Children should stop sucking their thumbs when their permanent teeth start coming in (around age 4). According to the American Dental Association (ADA), prolonged thumb sucking may cause problems with the proper growth of the mouth and the alignment of teeth. It also can cause changes in the roof of the mouth.

Besides that, children who rest their thumbs passively in their mouths are less likely to experience difficulty than those who vigorously suck their thumbs. When an active thumb sucker removes his or her thumb from the mouth, a popping sound often is heard. Some aggressive thumb suckers may cause problems with their baby teeth.

Source: What To Expect

So how can you discourage your little one to stop sucking their thumbs?

Firstly, never ever scold your child for doing it. Instead, offer them praise for not doing. This is because openly pressuring them to stop actually motivates them to suck their thumb even more. Secondly, try rewarding them when they avoid thumb sucking during a difficult period. As Children often suck their fingers when they feel insecure, focus on correcting the cause of the anxiety and comfort them.

Sources: American Dental Association (ADA), Baby Center, Fatherly.