Is Thumb sucking a Better Option than Using Pacifier?

February 10, 2015 by  
Filed under Baby Tips

Is-thumb-sucking-goodThumb sucking is commonly observed among infants. Parents are aware that the babies sucking the thumb or pacifier is only non nutritive sucking. This practice is associated with their need to satisfy the urge for contact and security.

At times the pacifier is encouraged by parents to avoid baby crying especially on an outing. Parents also believe that it is easier to get rid of the practice of a pacifier rather than thumb sucking as the fingers or thumb are always available for the baby and therefore becomes extremely difficult to change the habit.

Within the first few months of life, or even sooner, a baby can become a thumb or finger sucker as a way to fall asleep, to calm down, or to just feel good. At this stage, not only is thumb or finger sucking common, it is considered harmless in terms of a child’s growth and speech development.

Affects of thumb sucking, using pacifier

Usage of thumb/ fingers and pacifiers will have a negative effect as they affect the teeth in the same way. The teeth is slightly raised on the front side. Sucking puts pressure on the sides of the upper jaw and the soft tissue on the roof of the mouth. As a result, the upper jaw can narrow, causing the teeth to not meet properly from the top to the bottom

Hygiene part is most critical. The pacifier needs to be kept sterile in between uses. Exposure to dust and germs will affect health and baby may fall sick repeatedly. The ‘problem’ isn’t really thumb sucking or using a pacifier, it is when they become prolonged sucking habits.Is-thumb-sucking-good

I’ve seen children who have joined school with distorted skin due to constant sucking. Sucking is very natural for babies. It is very common for them to use their thumbs or fingers as part of their routine to find comfort and to soothe themselves.

Thumb sucking: Do’s and Don’t’s

If your child is approaching preschool and is still sucking away, here’s how to handle it correctly:

  1. DO try to limit the time that your child sucks his thumb to his bedroom or in the house, not in public. Explain to him that this is a bed activity during nap time and at night.
  2. DON’T turn it into a confrontation. “Don’t tell your child, ‘You cannot suck your thumb anymore,’”. Try to recognize him and praise him when he’s not sucking his thumb instead of criticizing when he is.
  3. DO talk to your child about her thumb sucking or finger sucking. The child will surely give up with the support you have constantly given him.
  4. DON’T stop your child if he tries to suck his thumb or fingers after being hurt or injured. This is a basic means to be in his comfort zone, and by not letting him go there, you’re only hurting him more.
  5. Do not use the various means prescribed to stop thumb sucking i.e application of neem leaves paste, applying bitter gourd juice and other bitter applications.
  6. DO come up with creative ways to help your child understand that he is growing up and one day won’t suck his thumb anymore. “Ask your child, ‘Do you think Spider man or his favorite cartoon character eg: Chotta Bheem sucks his thumb?’” Observe the thought process. “Then they’ll think about, and start to process whether they want to be sucking their thumbs anymore.”
  7. DON’T try a glove or a mitten on the hand as a quick-fix to thumb or finger sucking. “This will just frustrate them and cause more anxiety,”. They’re old enough to just take it off, and as a result, they’ll just want to suck more.”
  8. DO remember that a child will grow out of the need for thumb sucking or finger sucking when he’s good and ready. While parents may not like it, it’s best left alone,.  Parents be assured that “Kids will eventually give it up.”

Therefore whether  the baby is thumb sucking or using a pacifier you need to gradually encourage them to change this habit and be supportive during this changing phase where they will require more comfort and YOU to lean onto.

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Related posts:

  1. Thumb Sucking: How Can you Help your Child Stop this Habit

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