Thumb Sucking In Infants And Toddlers

Thumb Sucking In Infants And Toddlers

Thumb sucking is a universal baby pastime. It is a projection of breastfeeding. To baby, it may spell comfort and solace. It may represent a sense of security, particularly when outside influences are having an adverse effect.

Thumb sucking tends to increase up to the age of two years. It may be the thumb, or fingers, or the whole hand. Basically, it is the same physiological process.

After age two, the habit tends to wane, as baby turns to other facets of interest.

Sucking the thumb after this age should therefore be discouraged. Many babies suck their thumbs when they become tired, and proceed with this until they drift into sleep.

It is possible that continual sucking, when asleep, can build up an enormous pressure inside the oral cavity. The thumb can press against the teeth. Some claim this may be responsible in helping to produce “buck” teeth.

In any event, the constant thumb sucker is best checked after he falls asleep. The mother may gently remove the hand from the face and slip it unobtrusively by his side. This seldom produces any adverse result; baby usually sleeps happily through the simple action.

If this is persevered with in those who persistently suck, gradually the habit tends to wane until it is overcome entirely. In those that show a chronic and intense desire to persist with the habit, the doctor should seek some underlying problem.

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