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Thumb sucking is a natural reflex from babies gaining nourishment in their first year. Sucking on fingers and other objects is likewise a healthy part of development and discovery. Thumb sucking often becomes one of the leading ways for infants and toddlers to self-soothe. However, thumb sucking may result in crooked teeth and a tendency to gain more germs as they grow.

At around ages 2-4 many children stop sucking their thumb. At this stage, they have primary teeth and their permanent front teeth are preparing to come up. This is a good time to stop your child from thumb sucking. Many parents ask how they can help their child move on from thumb sucking. We recommend keeping the transition simple and light. Here are some of our dentist’s tips.

Use positive reinforcement to praise your child for times when they are not sucking their thumb. While all of us love positive reinforcement, it has quite an effect on children. Acknowledging a child when they aren’t sucking their thumb makes them feel like a “big kid.”

If the child is using thumb sucking as a soothing way to find comfort, try to find another way to alleviate the source of anxiety. This could mean providing a favorite toy or blanket to help comfort the child instead.

If the child is old enough, ask them how they would like to stop sucking their thumb, and develop a plan together that the child is excited about. Involving the dentist in this conversation can be especially effective for your child. Call us at Hudson Dental Care at 770-438-1520 to schedule an appointment to meet with our dentist for help to plan your child’s move on from thumb sucking today.