Help Your Child Break the Thumb Sucking Oral Habit and Save Teeth
- Most thumb suckers break the habit on their own before turning five years old.
- Wean your child gradually. If your child is an infant, try to substitute with a pacifier. Pacifier habit of the children breaks quicker than thumb sucking.
- Do not fuss at, ridicule, or make fun of an older child for thumb sucking. Scolding the child will only make your child feel guilty and that may encourage the habit to continue.
- Find ways to motivate your child to stop the habit.
- Allow the thumb sucking only at certain times and for a specific length of time. Use a kitchen timer and reduce the time of thumb sucking by 10% each day. Reward the child with hugs and praise.
- Introduce an alternate activity to replace the thumb sucking. The activity should occupy both hands (jumping rope, basketball, piano, card games, dressing a doll, etc).
- Place a glove or soft mitten over your child’s hand, or you can use a bitter tasting substance on your child’s thumbnail, especially during sleep.
- Mouth appliances are available which interfere with the comfort of the thumb sucking. They are relatively inexpensive and may produce quicker results.