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Thumb Sucking in Babies

Thumb-sucking is a usual occurrence in babies. At some or other stages, it is the job of infants to suck their thumb which they love it and it becomes a habit gradually. Thumb sucking may result in displaced teeth and a habit which may be difficult for infants to get rid of.

Most of the toddlers do resort to sucking their thumb albeit for a short period of time, for others this may also become their daily habit. This may be a good indicator for hunger or want of comfort. Some parents tend to force their baby to immediately pull back their thumb as soon as they start sucking it; this isn’t the way to deal with this problem. In fact, parents’ reaction like this will encourage the babies to confirm this habit even further.

Connection between hunger and thumb-sucking

There is a saying that babies suck their thumb which indicates that their tummy is not full and hence by doing so will indicate you that they are hungry. As per research studies, toddlers who were fed at smaller durations were more or less susceptible to thumb sucking than toddlers who were fed at longer durations. However, there are toddlers who may show the tendency for the same, rather than feeding schedule. In fact, some toddlers have been doing thumb sucking, right from the delivery room. Isn’t that unbelievable! Well, that’s true.

Thumb sucking should never be the problem

If for a few minutes your baby sucks the thumb, don’t see that as a problem. The concern only arises if your baby develops this habit for a longer duration. Always keep in mind that it is far better to deal with thumb sucking when it is at the budding stage instead of becoming a habit. In case if you see that your baby is adopting such practice instantly after being fed, it is better to put your baby back on to the bottle or breasts or a pacifier.

Thumb-sucking and breastfeeding

As per research studies which state that breastfed babies have less possibility to thumb sucking. This is because breastfed babies satisfy their impulse to suck this way only. Generally, a baby is able to suck the milk only from the breast within 5 to 6 minutes; any sucking exceeding this point is only for the sucking purposes. If the baby does thumb sucking even after breastfeeding, the mother should put her out on to the other breast so that she can have her fill, in case if she feels hungry. For this objective, you can raise the time duration to which the babies suck the first breast and then put them onto the second breast.

Connection between thumb-sucking and bottle-fed babies

The thumb sucking habit often develops in bottle-fed babies because they are able to finish a full milk bottle in 10 minutes as against 20 minutes of thumb-sucking that would have been required for the similar amount of milk in breastfeeding. With the course of time, the nipple of the milk-bottle become weaker as the baby grows stronger enough to finish the bottle full of milk at a much faster pace. If your baby is on formula milk, you should endeavor to slow down the speed of the bottle feeding so that your baby sucks the nipples of the milk bottle for the required amount of time.

Cutting down on feeding

Parents usually cut down the number of feedings of milk as soon as the baby grows older. It is therefore not to cut down on the number of feedings of your child even if he/she is doing thumb sucking. Although if your baby is asleep, you can wake her up and check whether or not she would like to be fed or not.

Connection between teething and thumb-sucking
Babies who are presently on teething, may have the habit of thumb sucking so as to get relieved of the gums pressure.

What about the baby’s teeth?

Normally the upper front teeth of the baby push forward in case if your baby is in the habit of thumb sucking. It is recommended that the thumb-sucking habit should be curtailed down before the age of six so that the same occurrence does not happen with the permanent teeth of the baby.