Thumb sucking

Adorable as it may be to see a baby or toddler sucking their thumb, it isn’t a habit you want around when your child gets older.

Some of the problems with prolonged finger sucking are:

  • Changes in the mouth and/or facial structures – such as causing an anterior open bite
  • Narrow top jaw
  • Crossbite and increased overjet

In other words, it can affect the growth of their mouth, jaw and teeth.

A lot of children will outgrow this habit on their own by ages 2-4, but for those who haven’t there are steps you can take to help them break the habit. If you have an infant and have noticed a habit of finger sucking starting to form, you can encourage the use of a pacifier instead. A pacifier is easier to take away as children grow older. For older and for verbal children, you can talk to him or her about stopping the habit, having your child on board can really help in the process. It is important to set attainable goals with your child and remember that it is a process and probably won’t just stop overnight.

Ideas for breaking the habit:

  • Praise when you see a decrease or absence of the behavior
  • Sticker chart – earn a sticker for when your child stops or you notice they are not sucking
  • Celebration – when the chart is full, or the behavior is stopped you have a special reward or celebration – think of something special for your unique child.
  • Avoid negative reinforcement and frustration – it can have the opposite effect.
  • You can use mavala cream (topical ointment you have to be diligent about reapplying – Check out our amazon link with the Mavala cream)
  • Books about finger sucking can be helpful as well (Check out our amazon link for some book options)

As parents we all want the best for our kids, and often times we worry about their habits and behaviors, concerned with how it will affect them in their future. Norman Pediatric Dentistry is here to help. If you’ve noticed your child has a habit of finger sucking try these ideas with your child. We are here to support you as you work to break the habit.