Thumb Sucking Reason #3: When child feels anxious, scared and bored (read all the reasons and solutions)

Thumb Sucking Reason #3: When child feels anxious, scared and bored (read all the reasons and solutions)

Most babies learn the sucking reflex right from their birth as they suck their mother’s breast for nutrition. Often, they make the sucking noise to indicate their hunger. Even when not hungry, many babies keep on sucking anything that reaches their mouth. It could be a zipper of their garment, their thumb or any toy that they can reach.

Why do babies suck their thumb?

  1. Thumb sucking is a habit that starts out in babies as a way of keeping themselves calm and makes them feel soothed.
  2. Thumb sucking is a natural way for a child that to comfort himself.
  3. A child sucks his thumb when he is feeling anxious, nervous, bored or scared.
  4. A child sucks thumb to help himself fall asleep at bedtime

For a long time, I let my child suck his thumb thinking that it helps with the irritation caused by teething. For 2-3-month-old babies, it is common to put their hands and thumb in the mouth but it phases out in a couple of months. If it doesn’t, then it becomes a habit which is a matter of concern.

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How long do kids suck their thumb?

Most kids stop sucking their thumb between the age of 2-4 years. If they continue to suck their thumb after starting formal school then peer pressure and mocking help to let go of the habit. An important point that must be noted here is that kids who stop sucking their thumb at an older age may still display this behavior when they are under stress.

Why is thumb sucking an issue?

Thumb sucking becomes a problem when it becomes your child’s security blanket. This means that whenever your child is anxious, nervous or scared, the feelings manifest in the form of thumb sucking.

For me, I only realized it as an issue when my son turned five (yes, imagine I let it happen for that long) and was bullied by his classmates for being the only one who sucked his thumb. Well, whether we like it or not, thumb sucking after a certain age is also a social stigma. That is when I decided to seek help from my mom and my pediatrician to help my child get over this issue.

Read more: Science says that child should be breastfed till 5 years of age – Extended Breastfeeding

Thumb sucking in addition to all of this leads to dental problems as well. Crooked teeth, infections, and gum inflammation are only the beginning of the several issues that come with thumb sucking.

How to stop your child from sucking his thumb?

Nipping this habit in the bud is the best option. The sooner you put an end to it, the easier it becomes. After your child has grown a bit and has started thinking, throwing tantrums and started answering back, you will find it a lot harder. Trust me!

Here are few suggestions or ways which can help your child to stop thumb sucking:

All remedies are good for children over 18 months.

#1. Band-Aid around the finger

Thumb Sucking ReasonImage Source: aliexpress

One can put some fun character band-aid around the thumb as a reminder not to take in the thumb.

#2. Apply Femite

Thumb Sucking ReasonImage Source: clickooz

There is a cosmetic yet harmless product Femite which is bitter in taste that does not completely vanish even after washing hands for about 3 to 4 times. It is easily available at any chemist shop.

Also Read: 7 Reasons why babies cry or act hungry even after breastfeeding – we have solutions too

#3. Aloe Vera Gel

Thumb Sucking ReasonImage Source: livestrong

Aloe vera is non-toxic for the child but since is bitter in taste can aid in keeping the child away from taking in the thumb. Rub the aloe gel on your child’s thumb so that he can avoid putting his thumb in mouth.
Click here for aloe vera gel

#4. Neem paste

Thumb Sucking ReasonImage Source: searchherbalremedy

It is also bitter in taste and thus works effectively. Grind a few neem leaves and add water to make a thick paste. Apply this on the thumb every day.

#5. Pudin Hara

Thumb Sucking ReasonImage Source: rewellonline

For the most effective results, one can go for pudin hara. Pudin Hara is an ayurvedic formulation so will in no way bring any harm to your child. Besides keeping the child away from sucking his thumb, it will also keep his stomach good in case he licks it.
Click here for pudin hara

For Children 3 years and above

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#6. Offer Positive Reinforcement

For older children, if these remedies don’t work you can go for a reward based system. You may simply praise your child or provide a small reward for the times when he/she isn’t sucking the thumb. You can also stick small smiley stickers on a calendar for each day that goes without the thumb going in his/her mouth.

I made a monthly progress card and for every day that my child lasted without sucking on his thumb, I would pack his favorite lunch to school the next day. We mutually agreed that he could only have seven slip-ups a month. If he had more, he would lose the ‘grand prize’ at the end of the month. This reduced to six, then five and eventually no slip-ups.

#7. Gentle Reminders

Whenever you notice your child sucking his/her thumb, just remind him/her gently. Remember, scolding, criticizing and being violent isn’t going to help. You can also set a special cue to remind your child when in public, like a hand signal or a raised eyebrow.

#8. Identify the triggers

If you notice that your child sucks his/her thumb as a response to stress, find the reason behind stress and comfort him/her. You never know it could actually be an emotional problem that your child is dealing with and you’re unaware of it. Hug your child and reassure him/her that you’re always there for him. If your child is in the habit of sucking the thumb while sleeping, you can use duct tape to wrap your child’s thumb with tape. It will take time but when your child will find it distasteful, he/she will eventually stop taking the thumb.

Since everyone is different one must try the above remedies to discover what might actually work for your child. However, it is always recommended to not punish or nag the child to get the thumb out of the mouth. Compelling the child may boost their desire to do it even more.

Give your child some time and try to tackle the issue through a calm approach. Try and find out other ways which could soothe your child so that they give up on sucking the thumb without any harsh punishments.

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