Are you annoyed with your child thumb sucking? Do you want to know some effective ways on how to stop your child from indulging in this silly activity?
Before, you learn about the methods, you must know that thumb sucking is a natural reflex action. It is a common behaviour. This habit can be detected during ultrasound. Thumb sucking helps soothe sore gums at the time of teething and is a baby’s way of calming himself. Infants link sucking with pleasure. They continue the habit even as toddlers. In some cases, the thumb sucking may continue for prolonged periods, up to 8-9 years.
Thumb sucking habit is found in nearly 18% of children aged between 2 and 4 years. As you read more about thumb sucking and different ways to cope up with the issue, you find experts discourage parents from trying to stop this habit until a child himself demonstrates that he is ready to quit thumb sucking.
Methods For How To Stop Thumb Sucking:
Various methods can be implemented to tackle this issue. Some effective ways to stop thumb sucking in babies are:
1. Let Your Baby Decide It’s A Mess:
Whenever you will go to a paediatrician regarding your baby’s thumb sucking habit, you will be getting the same message that the best way to get rid of this messy habit is to tell your baby to stop himself. The most effective way is to let him continue and when he will find a reason to stop such behaviour, like being mocked upon by his peers at school, he will quit this habit. Some specialists say that there are more chances of success in confronting the problem when your little one is ready to quit than banging your head for forcing him to stop thumb sucking.
2. Try A Reward System:
Reward based system or game playing can be beneficial in tackling the problem. Place a calendar on a refrigerator and tell your baby that for each day when he will not suck his thumb, you will mark that day in that calendar and stick a smiley sticker on that day. When that set period, say like a month, is over you can offer a reward to your baby like an ice cream treat or his favourite toy.
3. Try an Unpleasant Remedy:
You can opt for this reverse psychology when you ask your baby to put all the fingers in mouth for the same duration as he puts the thumb in his mouth. Continuously doing this, your baby will get tired of this process and will stop sucking his thumb altogether.
4. Give Your Baby The Option of Thumb Sucking in Private:
When your baby stops sucking his thumb in front of you or in public, then consider all your efforts a success. When he spends a short amount of time sucking his thumb in private, the problem won’t last long. Soon, he will drop the idea of thumb sucking in private too.
5. ‘Reminder Liquid’ Idea:
Some pediatricians see this method as a cruelty. But others recommend using some liquid which is bad in taste and put it over the thumb. This stops the baby from putting his thumb in the mouth. The method should not be treated as a punishment to the baby; instead it should be used as a reminder. The fluid on his thumb will remind him not to put his thumb in the mouth.
6. Do Not Try Negative Reinforcement:
Negative rewards should never be used like placing a sad faced sticker on the calendar or other nasty ways to stop his thumb sucking habit such as applying pepper on fingers.
7. Do Not Shout:
You might be feeling frustrated at times when your baby puts his thumb in his mouth. Try not to yell at him or punish him as this will only cause nervousness and he will be frightened. This can even cause the problem to get worse rather than getting better.
8. Begin With Easy Stuff And Then Accelerate:
The approach in tackling thumb sucking habit should be like- you first approach your baby to stop thumb sucking in public and then gradually apply the other simple methods. Later on, you can take steps to stop thumb sucking during sleep time. You can also lure your baby that you will double his reward if he stops sucking his thumb during the more testing times.
9. Weaken the Habit:
When your baby puts his thumb in the mouth, try to divert him. Try to engage him in an activity that needs both his hands. Get ready before bed time and make him hold the book you are reading to him or give him a soft toy to wrap around. Discourage your baby to stop sucking his thumb while sleeping and tell him that his thumb is also sleeping.
10. Be Patient:
Bbabies who suck their thumbs at the age of four, five or six years, stop sucking as they become more engaged in other activities as time passes or maybe they suck thumbs at some specific times. According to some experts, babies stop thumbsucking altogether at the age of seven at maximum due to the peer pressure in school.
11. Look For A Substitute:
When your child is a baby, you can look out for a substitute like silicone pacifiers. It soothes and distracts him.
Disadvantages Of Using Pacifier:
It is recommended not to overuse pacifiers. Here is why:
Using pacifiers in the first month may reduce breastfeeding success. This decreases the sucking time on the breast results in a lower milk supply.
Pacifiers may cause ear infections. Continuous sucking motion opens the auditory tubes. This allows the entry of bacteria from mouth to ear.
With each passing year you will see your baby sucking thumb in a particular time of the day.
Babies generally stop sucking thumb once they are four years old.
Some children may retain this habit, which may cause dental and speech problems.
In rare cases, if thumb sucking is observed after the age 5, it could be due to an emotional problem or other disorder like anxiety.
We hope we have helped the mothers with some useful tips to stop the child from sucking his thumb. Do share with us which technique gets him to discontinue this habit.