Why do children suck their thumbs? Many infants suck their thumbs even before they are born. Sucking is a comfort for infants and young children. As the child gets older, thumb sucking often becomes a bad habit.

Thumb sucking is normal: some children just have a greater need for oral comfort than others. Children who suck their thumbs aren’t neurotic nor should the habit make parents neurotic!

Is thumb sucking harmful for my child? Not for young children. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry states that thumb sucking is not a concern until the permanent front teeth begin to emerge, which is usually after 5 years of age. If thumb sucking does persist, pressure on the emerging permanent upper front teeth can cause them to protrude, resulting in problems with his bite. Sometimes, children who suck their thumbs develop calluses or even infections where their teeth contact the skin of the thumb.

Is sucking a pacifier preferable to sucking a thumb? Thumb, finger and pacifier sucking all have similar effects on teeth and jaws. The only advantage of sucking a pacifier is that it is an easier habit to break because it can be physically removed from the child.

How do I treat thumb sucking? The majority of children who suck their thumbs actually stop on their own. It’s probably best just to ignore the habit, especially in younger children. Once your child’s permanent teeth have erupted, you can use behavioral techniques, such as distraction, and encouragement (using ‘star charts’). Some parents apply bad-tasting, non-toxic solutions to the thumb as a deterrent. Occasionally it is necessary for his dentist to insert an oral device, which interferes with sucking, into your child’s mouth. Hypnosis might work to stop your child sucking his thumb if he is already motivated to stop.

Thank you from Caring for Kids (N. Saunders MD, FRCPC., J. Friedman MB.ChB, FRCPC., Key Porter Books, 2006) p. 203.

For more information on topics such as this one, visit AboutKidsHealth.


Jennifer McCallum

Thank you so much for stopping by this page to get to know a bit more about me and why I started Parent Guide Inc. My business story started a way back in 2001... …after the birth of my first daughter, I realized that an "all-in-one" resource guide for parents was needed, and fast! I designed the New Parent Resource Guide to fill a gap in the community for busy parents like myself. The New Parent Resource Guide offers an A-Z of key contacts for parents, caregivers, service providers, and health care professionals.  Working with key businesses and organizations in the community, we have also compiled much-needed articles, tips, and charts to answer all your parenting questions. The latest addition to our family is the School Age Resource Guide to serve parents of children, 3 to 18 years!  This guide answers questions about: nutrition, bullying, curriculum, building self-esteem, and much more, as well as offering a full directory of local and national resources. The Parentguide.ca website offers an “all-in-one” spot for parents to connect, add their own blog, and find needed resources in their community.  It is a site that educates and entertains and if you can't find somthing just ASK me. I am here to serve YOU!  My hope is that you connect with our members, find comfort in their words, and share your own story. My goal is to see what I can do to help make life a bit easier for you.   You are why I do what I do! I can’t wait to get to know you!  Comment below to tell me about yourself – then start blogging so we can find out what makes you get up in the morning!  Check out my blog too and I am sure you will be surprised what gets me out of bed each day!!! Jennifer -  Mom and Publisher

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