Gentle (yet effective) tips to help your toddler stop sucking their thumb


by Fi Star-Stone |

So many parents worry when their babies start sucking their thumb, because unlike dummies - you can’t really take a thumb away!

Many babies start sucking their thumb in the womb and often, this self-comforting continues long into the pre-school years.

Why should my child stop sucking their thumb? 

Cute and comforting as it is - sucking the thumb constantly can have a big effect on speech and the development of teeth, but not all thumb-sucking is equally damaging. It’s about the intensity of the sucking and how often your little one sucks for.

Cute and comforting as it is - sucking the thumb constantly can have a big effect on speech and the development of teeth.

Little ones who rest their thumb passively in their mouth while they go about their day, are less likely to have dental problems than children who suck constantly and aggressively. It’s the tongue’s constant thrust caused by sucking that deforms teeth. Likewise - a toddler who always talks while his thumb is in his mouth will likely develop speech issues so it’s important to get into good habits with your little thumb sucker from the start.

When your toddler talks to you – make sure they take their thumb out. Try and get your little one into this routine from a young age by letting them know they don’t have your attention unless their thumb is out of their mouth. Say something like ‘I can’t hear your words with your thumb there, can you say it again without your thumb?’

How can I get my little one to stop sucking their thumb?

Firstly, like anything parenting - go by your own little one - every child is different. Most children stop thumb-sucking on their own between the ages of 2 and 4, but many continue for much longer and can continue thumb-sucking throughout the school years!

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1) Don't be negative

Making it a negative thing and being forceful or cross won’t help, in fact it’ll make it worse. Most children suck their thumbs when they are tired or worried - it’s a safety blanket used for reassurance, so always be calm, consilient and offer lot’s of praise for their efforts. There are lots of ways to stop your little one from sucking their thumb, but none are a quick fix. With any habit – it takes time and patience.

Now read:

Ask Rachel: "Is it okay to give my baby a dummy?"

How dentists look after their tots’ teeth

Why is my baby sucking their thumb?

Ask Rachel: "What should I do if I think my tot has tongue-tie?"

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