Thumb Sucking

thumb-suckingIt has been clinically proven that some babies start thumb sucking in their mothers’ womb itself. Such being the case, it is not surprising to find babies sucking their thumbs. Babies find it comforting to suck their thumbs.

Giving a baby a pacifier is supposed to give a calming effect. So the habit of thumb sucking on the part of infants need not be worried upon.

During the breast feeding period, if the babies are adequately fed, some babies are observed not to thumb suck, but it cannot be generalized also since some babies are found to thumb suck.

However it is best to avoid the use of a pacifier during the period of breast feeding till the baby becomes four to six weeks old. Otherwise the baby may avoid breast feeding since it finds soothing effect with the pacifier.

Instead of giving a pacifier, the baby should be comforted by holding in hands whenever the baby is crying. Also care has to be taken not to allow the baby to sleep with the pacifier in its mouth.

It has been proven that the soothing effect of the pacifier affects the interacting skills of the baby if it continues this after two years. Hence, gradually the baby has to be weaned away from this practice. With this aim, the baby should not be given the pacifier after six months and its use should be restricted only while the baby is put in a crib.

This increases the interval between the usages of the pacifier and hence the baby gradually loses interest and finally forgets. Other ways of stopping the habit of thumb sucking and use of pacifier are enumerated below.

Ways to stop thumb sucking:

Some presents, such as a toy or a ball, may be given as bait to give up sucking and the child may be praised if it is not thumb sucking for specified duration. Also the pacifier may be slightly damaged so that the child does not find comfort in using the pacifier and put gradual restrictions on using the pacifier, such as the baby can use it only while in bedroom and then in the house and so on.

The attention of the child may be diverted to some other activity such as singing, dancing, playing musical instruments or in helping household chores.

The child should not be criticized on this behaviour, especially in front of others, which will lead to more of the practice.

The child itself may be asked about leaving the habit of thumb sucking or use of pacifier, informing about the bad effects of the same. Also while the child is in the course of stopping thumb sucking, cover the thumb with cloth or neem oil or glove just to remind that it should not suck.