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How to Stop a Baby From Chewing its Thumb?

Kiran Verma

Written by Kiran Verma

How to stop the baby from chewing thumb? | Psychological consequences of thumbsucking | What age do babies find their thumb? | DIY thumb guard for thumbsuckers | Baby thumb guard

My younger sister used to chew her thumb. We have tried everything from telling her that it would make her one thumb smaller than the other. 

Superbottoms Langot

Yet! Nothing, she continues to chew her thumb.

Kind of hard to leave a habit. I mean, I still remember, she used to suck her thumb till 6th class. So, yeah! Speaking from personal experience, it sucks!

So, are there many answers for how to stop a baby from chewing thumb?

Indeed, every question has its answer. You just have to find it at the right place, and I can bet you are at the right place. 

Though thumbsucking seems to be a perfect idea, I don’t know why, but I did try it, and it was kind of fun. 

However, as it is a well-known fact, “excess of anything is not good.”

excess of anything is not good

Wow! Hold on, after researching, I got to know the benefits of thumbsucking, I know it’s shocking but true. 

So, are you ready to know the benefits of thumbsucking or the psychological consequences of thumbsucking?

Let’s learn everything about how to stop a baby from chewing her thumb?

How to Stop a Baby From Chewing its Thumb?

1. Positive Reinforcement

Positive Reinforcement-how to stop a baby from thumbsucking

Though thumbsucking is common among kids, however, at a point, you must be like, “Enough is enough!.”

That’s not going to stop without mamma or daddas intervention. 

And the first answer to, “how to stop a baby from chewing thumb?” is here.

Po-si-ti-ve Rein-force-ment.

I know you must be wondering why I have written it like this?

Well, it is to show you that you have to follow a chain of steps with some gifts with every victory. 

Um… chain of steps, what’s that?

It’s simple, you are going to reward your baby every time she does not suck her thumb. For instance, if your baby goes without thumbsucking for an hour, treat her with candies or one more bedtime story. 

Extra Treat- You can also try fixing a no-thumbsucking hour. Once your baby accomplishes its goal, you can ask them to place a sticker on the calendar as a reward.

2. Remind Rewind

While playing, babies tend to forget what mamma asked them to do, face this situation before? 

Of course, you do. 

What if I have a solution for you?

That’s the easiest solution I can offer you to prevent thumb-sucking. 

Just remind your baby not to suck her thumb whenever you can. 

Easy, isn’t it?

Reminder- Don’t scold or yell at your baby for thumbsucking, be gentle.

3. Are You the One Whose Forcing Your Baby to Suck Thumb?

Are You the One Whose Forcing Your Baby to Suck Thumb?

 I know, you must be me! How can I do that?

Indeed, you can, as parents are the closest people baby has in their life, your scolding or yelling can trigger your baby, there your baby is sucking her thumb.

I know parents think they have authority over their baby, a little yelling or scolding won’t do any harm. However, you are wrong.

Do you know why?

Because scolding or yelling at a baby can stress the baby, which can trigger urges to thumbsucking. 

What can you do in such a situation?

First, try to be gentle with the baby. If you have yelled or scolded the baby, hug them or treat them to relax them. 

4. Curiosity Could be Key to Your Question

I’m sure you must be at least a little curious to know the reason why your baby sucks her thumb, right?

Why not talk to your baby about it and try to find out the answer. 

Would it work?

I say YES.

Though, you should show curiosity instead of condemning it.

What kind of question can you ask?

Below mentioned are some of the fundamental question which will help you in commencing the conversation, 

  • Does thumbsucking feel good?
  • Is your baby aware they are doing it?
  • Is there anything else your baby would like to do that make them feel good as thumbsucking?

5. Analyze and Work

Analyze and Work

Is your baby following a pattern?

If yes, you are required to break it. For instance, if your baby sucks thumb before bedtime, you can fix a schedule not to suck the thumb and, in return reward your baby. 

You can also try giving warm milk to your baby. 

6. Watch and Stop

Wait! What’s that?

It is one of the easiest and funniest ways to prevent thumb-sucking. 

How?

Well, definitely your baby would have a favorite character or TV show, right?

So, choose an episode that revolves around breaking a bad habit to encourage your baby to stop thumbsucking. 

7. Divert and Done

Divert and Done

Ah! That’s the most appropriate solution I can find, and my mother suggested. 

All you have to do is to divert your baby’s attention whenever you notice thumbsucking. 

Some of the things you can do to divert your baby are,

  • Play your baby’s favourite game.
  • Watch your baby’s favourite cartoon.
  • Play peekaboo, as you notice your baby thumbsucking.
  • Offer pacifier (though, don’t depend on it too much).
  • Sing with or for your baby.
  • Read your baby’s favorite story.
  • Do role play focusing on leaving a bad habit.

8. Thumb Stopping Kit

And here we go with the modern twist to prevent thumb-sucking. 

Do you know why a thumb-stopping kit is perfect?

First, what is a thumb-stopping kit?

A thumb-stopping kit is used to prevent your baby from sucking thumb. It is more of a baby thumb guard, which you can place on your baby’s thumb. 

I can bet a plastic thumb or finger cover can solve all your problems. 

Note- While buying the baby thumb guard, always ensure that it is chemical-free.

Why Do Some Kids Suck Their Thumbs?

Why kids suck their thumb?

Babies suck their thumb because of natural rooting and sucking reflexes, sometimes before their birth. Moreover, thumbsucking makes your baby feel secure. That’s why to soothe themselves some baby’s get habitual of thumbsucking. 

How Long Does Thumbsucking Last? 

How Long Does Thumbsucking Last

Many kids suck their thumb between 6-7 months or between 2-4 years.

When Should You Intervene in Thumbsucking?

When its time to stop thumbsucking?

Though, thumbsucking must be your concern until your kid’s permanents teeth develop. Though excess thumbsucking can affect the roof of the mouth and teeth line up, thus, it can cause dental issues. 

Moreover, as per the American Academy of Pediatrics, treatment of thumbsucking is restricted to the age of 5 only. 

Can a Dentist Help in Thumbsucking?

Can a Dentist Help in Thumbsucking
Src: Giphy

Indeed, concerned parents should consult the same with the doctor. Also, sometimes dentist talking to your kid helps rather than a chat with parents. 

Is Thumbsucking Natural?

Indeed, thumbsucking is natural and instinctual. Moreover, it is widespread among babies or kids. 

What Are the Benefits of Thumbsucking?

1. Calming Effect

Yes! As mentioned, some babies suck their thumb when they feel tensed or worried, probably when you yell at them. 

So, when parents turn their back on the baby, yell or scold them, your baby’s heart rate increases probably because they are scared or worried. Consequently, thumb sucking regulates the rhythm of your baby’s heart or breath and calms them. 

2. Relief During Teething Phase

As we all know, during the teething phase, your baby becomes all cranky. Though that’s the part of a baby’s development, however, the pain makes things worse. 

In this situation, thumbsucking acts as a pain reliever or distracter. In short, it more acts as a pacifier by reducing discomfort. 

3. Boost Immune System of Baby

That’s strange! 

Yet, some studies conclude that kids who are habitual of thumbsucking face a low risk of allergy development in later life. 

4. No Dependency

According to some research, thumbsucking is also associated with less dependency on their parents for a while because they tend to soothe themselves. 

So, if mamma goes out for a while, a baby who sucks thumb will not worry much compared to one who has never done that.

5. Helps in Digestion

Thumbsucking is beneficial for the baby’s gut health and digestion because it pushes the food through the digestive system and increases the saliva flow. Thus, it affects the immune system as a whole and well-being.

6. Better Sleep

Your little monster is taking a nap while thumbsucking is the most adorable thing you have ever seen in your life. 

As mentioned, thumbsucking encourages self-soothing, which allows your baby to sleep for a longer time. 

7. Peace of Mind

This is one of the overlooked yet, essential benefits of thumbsucking. 

Considering all the benefits, it provides to your baby. These altogether give peace of mind to the parents. 

Would Extreme Measures Helpful in Preventing Thumbsucking?

Would Extreme Measures Helpful in Preventing Thumbsucking

Well, it came to my surprise when I got to know that parents literally try these tricks to prevent thumb-sucking. 

I mean, I agree, thumbsucking needs to stop. However, you don’t have to make your baby a little experimental rat. 

What am I talking about?

I’m talking about famous tricks of using nail polish, pepper, chili, bitter liquid, etc., on a baby thumb to prevent thumb-sucking. 

I would say NO!

These extreme measures are not the answer, “How to stop a baby from chewing thumb?”

If you are so desperate to stop thumbsucking, you can try out diversion or counseling, but not this. 

At What Age Do Babies Find Their Thumb?

Your baby finds their thumb generally by the age of 6-7 months, as that’s when they start thumbsucking. 

What Are the DIY Thumb Guard For Thumbsuckers?

DIY thumb guard for thumbsuckers, well I do have the simplest solution for this.

What’s that?

Indeed, you are aware of how to knit, right?

Likewise, knit a glove that will only cover the thumb of the baby.

What is Better, Pacifier or Thumbsucking?

Though both offer their own benefits, for instance, pacifiers reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome while sleeping, while thumbsucking soothe the baby.

However, these have their negative impact too.

For instance, a pacifier increases the risk of ear infection, on the other hand, thumbsucking introduces germs to the baby’s mouth. Thus, dependency on both could be harmful to the baby.

Conclusion

As mentioned, you must not worry about thumbsucking because it offers various benefits to your baby. However, if you notice your baby do it more often, you should talk your baby out of it, instead of being angry, yell, or scold her, as these also trigger thumbsucking. 

In short, you have to handle the situation with utmost care and calmness. 

Hey! That’s not it, if your baby continues it, visit the dentist or consider counseling as an option.

However, if you have any tricks or tips to prevent thumbsucking, I’m all ears.

Kiran Verma
Kiran Verma

Kiran Verma, founder, and author of BabyCart completed her post-graduation from CSJM University, Kanpur. However, the busy housewife that she is, yet, her being a mother changed her life when she had to face so many issues post-pregnancy, during pregnancy, and taking care of the baby. That encouraged her to commence the BabyCart blog with the motive to make pregnancy and parenthood uncomplicated, especially for new parents. Read more

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