Why do babies suck their thumbs?

+66 votes
asked Jun 9, 2015 in Pregnancy & Parenting by latoya (1,340 points)
My 2-month-old has recently started sucking his thumb. He often used to suck on his hands, as babies do, and would occasionally stay on his thumb and happily suck for a while - usually when he was beginning to get hungry. However, the past few days he’s been sucking his thumb almost constantly.

At first, I let him do it. It didn’t happen often and he seemed to enjoy it, and besides, a baby sucking his thumb is pretty cute. But now I’m starting to feel concerned. Should I let it be and assume he’ll grow out of it, or will that just cement the habit and keep him sucking his thumb for years? I hate to see kids who are 3 and up still sucking their thumbs.

3 Answers

+11 votes
answered Jun 15, 2015 by Varshaa (870 points)

Babies are wired with an instinct to suck on things. It ordinarily reduces after the period of about 6 months. However, many babies will keep the habit, as it helps them self-soothe. Thumb-sucking is often observed in babies and toddlers who do it to calm down when they’re feeling hungry, scared, or restless.

In some cases, thumb-sucking in children over the age of 5 is a symptom of an emotional disorder, like anxiety.

For kids under 4, thumb-sucking is generally fine. Youngsters who do it frequently around 4 or 5, or kids who continue to suck their thumbs at age 6 could develop dental problems or speech impediments.

Continued thumb-sucking can cause the teeth to develop incorrectly aligned, or push them forward. However, this problem is commonly corrected on its own once the child has stopped thumb-sucking. But the more time the habit persists, the higher the likelihood the child will need orthodontic treatment later.

Speech problems can result also, such as lisping, pushing the tongue out when speaking, or having trouble saying the letters T and D.

For more information on thumb-sucking and how to stop this behavior, check out this website:

http://www.newkidscenter.com/Baby-Thumb-Sucking.html

+10 votes
answered Jun 11, 2015 by tasheba (770 points)
Both of my children used to suck their thumbs when they were tired or trying to sleep. My five year old outgrew the habit on his own, and the dentist says her teeth are fine. My three year old still does it, but he’s gradually stopping, so I’m sure he will outgrow it soon enough.
0 votes
answered Jun 15, 2015 by Chavell (1,110 points)
Why do babies suck their thumbs? As he is only 2 months old, it’s perfectly normal for him to be sucking his thumb. He’s just a baby right now. As he grows older, he will gradually lose this habit.
Welcome to Instant Answer, where you can ask questions and receive answers from other members of the community.
...