Thumb Sucking Habits in Children

Growing a baby is no child’s play. This task involves a lot of thought, care and patience. The teething trouble is not only faced by the baby but by the parents also in upbringing a child. Studies suggest that about 75% of all babies who are born in industrialised nations develop the habit of thumb sucking. The number is lessened in countries where the babies can easily and readily gain access to their mothers' breast for feeding.

However, this data may indicate that the habit of thumb sucking develops in babies and toddlers due to their reflexes when they are hungry. Those babies somehow get the perception that they may extract milk from sucking their thumb.

Thumb sucking is regarded as one habit that is comforting and relaxing to children. Experts assert that babies, even prior to birth, may already have developed the sucking habit when they were still in their mothers' womb.

Thus, some babies are born with calluses in their wrist, finger or thumb, evidence that they may have already been hooked to the habit even before they were born.

Statistics also suggest that babies in industrialised countries develop the habit more compared to their contemporaries in third world nations. It is because mothers in industrialised nations are usually out for work and thus, the babies are not fed regularly by their nannies, wherein those from poor countries easily have access to mother's milk.

  • Help Your Child Conquer the Habit of Thumb Sucking

Normally the habit ceases when the child reaches the age of four years. Thumb sucking usually recedes by itself even without the child being aware that he is losing the habit.  Otherwise, it is high time, you as a parent take simple and practical steps to step in and break the habit for your child's own welfare.

  • One measure you may adopt is to pre-empt the habit with other fun and interesting activities. Remember, children with thumb sucking habits execute the annoying activity during idle hours. Thus, if you keep the child pre-occupied with different activities, he may not suck his thumb. It is also an opportunity to make the child productive.

 Second attempt is to divert the child's attention whenever he sucks his thumb. For example, during such hours, give him snacks or perhaps sugarless chewing gum. Monitor the development of the child each day. Set goals. For example, if the child forgets to suck his thumb for an hour, the parent should take note of that. Then set goals for a whole day, for two days, then for a week, until the habit is completely eradicated.

  • Do not resort to punishments as it may push the child into rebellion and further drive him towards thumb sucking. Other concerns and behavioral problems may also arise when the child is punished for a habit he is not aware is bad.
The childhood years are formative years and are crucial to the overall development of children. These years will make and unmake children, so help them by break out from inappropriate habits.

Visit Pediatricians and child care clinics in Kolkata to know more about ways to stop the thumb sucking habit.

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