sucking is a common concern for parents. All babies suck their
thumbs but this does not seem much of a consolation for nervous
parents who worry that their baby has formed a nasty habit
and this habit will result in displaced teeth. Well here is
a good news. Parents have to keep in mind that this habit
disappears gradually on its own and there is absolutely no
reason to worry.
Babies normally suck their thumb when they are hungry or when
they are scared and thus seek comfort by sucking their thumb.
Thus when a baby has not had her fill of sucking at the breast
or bottle, it instinctively turns towards its thumb. It is
normally observed that breastfed babies are less likely to
suck their thumbs. This is because breastfeeding usually satisfies
the baby's need to suck. Ordinarily, a baby sucks most of
the milk from the mother's breast in about 5 to 6 minutes.
Thus if your baby sucks beyond this point it is just to satisfy
her craving to suck. If a breastfed baby sucks her thumb immediately
after being fed, then allow her to nurse for a longer period
of time. Bottle-fed babies start sucking their thumb when
they can finish the bottle faster than their normal pace.
Thus as the baby grows stronger she finishes her bottle faster
and the nipples also become weaker. Thus her craving to suck
is not fulfilled and she starts sucking her thumb. To tackle
this problem what parents can do is fill the bottle with more
vacuum and buy new nipples with smaller holes which will thus
slower her down resulting into satisfying her craving to suck.
It is a fact that thumb-sucking can result in the baby's upper
front teeth being pushed forward and the lower teeth back.
Thus parents are absolutely justified if they worry about
this habit of their kid. The extent to which the teeth are
displaced or damaged will depend on how long the baby sucks
her thumb and how she positions her thumb. However there is
one consolation that this displacement of teeth is not permanent.
Thumb-sucking only affects the baby's milk teeth. The child's
permanent teeth come in around the age of six and thus if
this thumb-sucking habit is stopped before the age of six,
there will be no permanent damage to the child's teeth.
As mentioned earlier thumb-sucking habit vanishes before the
appearance of your baby's permanent teeth. Children usually
give up this habit between the age of 3 to 6 years. Initially
it decreases rapidly but sometimes the child starts sucking
its thumb when it feels lonely and scared and needs some comfort.
If your child occasionally sucks her thumb, but generally
seems happy and well adjusted, there is no cause for concern.
However, thumb-sucking can be an indication of something being
wrong. This is a sign for the parents to find out what is
wrong and what is bothering your child. Thumb-sucking can
also be an indication of loneliness and lack of love. It can
also be that your child needs companionship, or may be you
are being too restrictive or you are not able to give time
and attention to your child. Thus there could be a number
of reasons and what you must do is try to find out the reason
and be patient and caring to your child.