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Thumb Sucking

Sucking is a hard wired instinct in all babies’ brains. Children who suck their thumbs usually begin as babies and sometimes even in the womb. When babies are not offered a pacifier or in come cases, when they prefer their thumbs, many babies will suck their thumbs for comfort or to help them go to sleep. In fact, most thumb suckers actually sleep through the night before babies that do not suck their thumbs.

When will your baby stop sucking his thumb? Does it really matter? There is nothing wrong with your child comforting himself with thumb sucking, as long as he is not doing it in a business meeting when he’s 35, right?

Kidding aside, your child will most likely stop sucking his thumb around preschool age. First of all, peer pressure is a powerful thing. Secondly, he will be learning new coping skills and will no longer require sucking to comfort him.

If your child has not spontaneously stopped his thumb sucking by the time he is talking, there are some things you can do to help him along. It is important, however, not to make him feel bad or to pressure him into stopping. This will just make him insecure so that he wants to suck his thumb even more.

A good method to use is distraction. When he is sucking his thumb, get him involved in an activity that requires the use of both hands. If that doesn’t work, try putting something that tastes bad on his thumb. Some substances parents have used include vinegar or pickle juice. (This doesn’t work if he develops a taste for it). There are also some commercial products that work for this too.

Comments from your Pediatrician and your child’s friends will also sway your child from thumb sucking. Invite his friends over for a sleepover if they are old enough. One comment from his best friend will probably end the thumb sucking habit forever.

Without nagging or battling your child, he will most likely stop sucking his thumb by the time he’s 4 or 5 years old. Until then, enjoy your baby while he is still a baby.

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