Is Your Baby a Thumb Sucker?
Life is a series of discoveries for a little baby. From the time they are born they are discovering the nipple, discovering mom and dad, discovering siblings, discovering toys and discovering body parts such as their hands and later their feet. Babies have a natural instinct to suck from inside the womb, and can often be seen sucking their thumb in an ultrasound during pregnancy. Sometimes this will continue on outside of the womb.
A baby can first discover his hands at a couple of months old. Or, it may be later when he starts teething and drooling. You may see your baby try to stick his fist in his mouth, or frantically try to gnaw on it while he is drooling. Finding his fist, may lead to him finding his thumb, or in some cases finding a finger, or two. Some babies, when they find their thumb realize that they can suck on it for comfort.
There are babies, both breastfed and bottle fed, who need to suck and who find comfort and are lulled to sleep by sucking. Sometimes these babies can calmed with a pacifier, while other times they can not. Many times it is the mother’s nipple that takes the brunt of the sucking, as it is the only thing that calms down and puts her baby back to sleep.
When a baby finds his thumb however it might mean relief for mom, and more free time to get other things taken care of around the house. Maybe it is the warmth of the thumb or fingers, but some babies who like to suck find comfort in sucking on their thumb. This can worry some parents though.
Some parents are afraid of creating a habit with their baby that they have a hard time of breaking. Others are afraid about damage being done to their baby’s teeth. Statistics show however that most children quit sucking their thumb by the time they are 4 years old, before their baby teeth fall out and their adult teeth start coming in. Thumb sucking is simply outgrown by most children.
It is extremely difficult to stop your baby from sucking his thumb. It is especially hard to keep your babies thumb out of his mouth, and keep it out when your baby is asleep. You can offer the pacifier, which is much easier to take away if your baby will take it. If you breastfeed, you can try to discourage it by nursing more often or nursing your baby to sleep so that he doesn’t search out his thumb for sucking.
If your baby is sucking his thumb and it bothers you but there is nothing you can do about it, ask your pediatrician to see if he has any suggestions for you. With as many babies and kids that your pediatrician see’s it is likely that he has heard stories from other mom’s that worked, and he might have tips for you.
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