Take the 2-minute tour ×
Parenting Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for parents, grandparents, nannies and others with a parenting role. It's 100% free, no registration required.

My 2-month-old has recently discovered his thumb. He used to often suck his hands, normal baby behavior, and occasionally would "find" his thumb and happily suck for a while - usually when he was starting to get hungry. However, in the past few days he has started to suck his thumb much more often, almost constantly.

At first I let him do it because it was occasional, he seemed to enjoy it - and because a 2-month-old sucking his thumb is just adorably cute :) But now I'm starting to get concerned. Should I leave him and assume he'll grow out of it, or will this just let him cement the habit and suck his thumb for years to come? (I really don't like seeing 3+ year olds still sucking...)

If I should try to discourage it, what can I do? Should I just leave him alone? And if not, what are some ideas to break the habit?

I've tried pulling out his thumb and sticking in a pacifier instead (which he doesn't seem to take too often)... but a minute later I'll pass by and the pacifier is out, and a minute later the thumb is back in. (I'd prefer an addiction to pacifiers than to his thumb, considering that pacifiers can be taken away... Thumb-sucking is a much harder habit to break.)

I did look at the 2 following posts, but found that my situation was different, hence my question:

share|improve this question
    
Ok, something funny that just happened that shows how addicted he is... I put him on the playmat and he was happily amusing himself. Suddenly I heard him half-crying, half-whining... Went to check it out, and everything's fine - clean diaper, not hungry, etc. Went back to what I was doing and he started crying again. Came back - and noticed that his stretchy is a bit big and the sleeves are too long, so he's trying to get at his thumb and can't... His sleeve is all wet and he's crying from frustration! –  babiesRyummy Jul 3 '11 at 9:34
    
Some kids refuse pacifiers and at the same want the comfort from sucking. In those cases you probably can't do much, and have to deal with it when the child is older. Thumbsucking is a problem to quit, as you can't hide the thumb. But it is possible, and I think there is a thread on this as well. –  Lennart Regebro Jul 4 '11 at 10:20
    
Yes, there's a question about how to quit thumbsucking but that is already linked in the question though. –  Torben Gundtofte-Bruun Jul 4 '11 at 13:16
    
@Lennart - I think your comment comes closest to answering my question. I've found that there's not much to do about it now, and I just have to wait till he's older to get him off it. In the meantime I'll just focus on enjoying the benefits :) (You can't lose a thumb, and you have a pacifying method anywhere you go! ;) And it is so cute.) If you post your comment as an answer I'll accept it... –  babiesRyummy Jul 25 '11 at 13:41
    
My daughter did this at 2 months also and she is 12 and just got braces BC she sucked it till she was 8! And believe me we tried everything to get her to stop! My son is 5 months and just found his thumb and of course I freaked out and have been trying to get him to stop with a paci, toys, etc. Even my daughter is like "don't let him!" I understand why we should allow them but I don't want to pay for braces again and not just that it pulled her whole jaw forward and he's just a baby I think I can out smart him and get him to forget about his thumb so I'm going to keep on keeping on with the di –  Nicole Feb 10 at 21:23
add comment

7 Answers

up vote 0 down vote accepted

Some kids refuse pacifiers and at the same want the comfort from sucking. In those cases you probably can't do much, and have to deal with it when the child is older. Thumbsucking is a problem to quit, as you can't hide the thumb. But it is possible, and I think there is a thread on this as well.

share|improve this answer
    
I have reviewed the existing questions and tagged some of them with thumb-sucking. The closest thread I found deals with how to stop thumb-sucking at night. –  Torben Gundtofte-Bruun Jul 25 '11 at 19:32
add comment

Could he be teething? In that case he might find the pacifier too soft, and he's looking for something with more chewable resistance. Try offering him teething toys (put them in the fridge first for added effect) and see if he likes them more than the pacifier.

If he's not teething, it might be that he has discovered/decided that he dislikes that particular brand/model of pacifier. Try a few different ones, and test if their relative firmness/softness or shape makes any difference.

share|improve this answer
    
+1 for mentioning teething. 2 months is young for teething but my baby had some teething pains at that age. I was told by her ped that even if the teeth aren't near the surface, they are constantly growing, and can cause aches even when they're that little. In which case, cold teething toys may not help, but a lil bit of pain medication or teething gel might. –  Corvus Melori Jul 3 '11 at 20:15
    
Thanks for great background info on teething - I couldn't have phrased it so well. –  Torben Gundtofte-Bruun Jul 4 '11 at 6:13
add comment

Far from preventing him, you should be encouraging him if possible. This is great way for babies to comfort themselves - now that your son has found his thumb, he shouldn't need dummies/pacifiers any more. He's getting self-sufficient :-)

share|improve this answer
    
I would not encourage thumb sucking as it can cause dental issues; plus it can be very hard to break the habit. We transitioned our baby to a dummy so that we could break the habit when she was older (18 months) - this worked well for us. –  dave Feb 10 at 21:30
add comment

As he is only 2-months, there is nothing wrong with him sucking his thumb, its only natural. As he grows older, he will gradually forgo this habit. But at the moment, he is a baby!

share|improve this answer
add comment

Sucking his thumb at this age is appropriate. The next stage will be putting most things in his mouth. Encourage your little one to explore his world through his mouth. There are more receptors and development there than the rest of his body at this age. Give him lots of appropriate toys & teethers to chew on too, especially when he can hold them. Sounds like you have a normal healthy baby!

share|improve this answer
    
I agree with some of this, but I don't think this is typical baby behavior. Yes, most babies suck their hands and put everything they can find in their mouth... But I have hardly ever seen a baby this age who constantly and consistently sucks his/her thumb. –  babiesRyummy Jul 25 '11 at 13:39
    
One of mine did, at about that age. –  Marc Mar 11 at 4:18
add comment

Both my kids sucked their thumb when they were tired or trying to go to sleep. My five year old outgrew it without any intervention. Dentist says her teeth look fine. Three year old is still at it, but I'm pretty confident he will outgrow it also as it is becoming less prevalent as he gets older.
Thumb Sucking Doesn't Suck

share|improve this answer
add comment

I think that whole thumb-sucking-ruined-teeth isn't so true.

From a pediatric dentist:

What Is Normal Thumb-Sucking Behavior?

The majority of children suck a thumb or a finger from a very young age; most even start inside the womb. Sucking is a natural reflex for an infant, and it serves an important purpose. Sucking often provides a sense of security and contentment for a young one. It can also be relaxing, which is why many children suck their thumbs as they fall asleep.

According to the American Dental Association, most children stop thumb-sucking on their own between the ages of two and four. They simply grow out of a habit that is no longer useful to them.

However, some children continue sucking beyond the preschool years (although studies show that the older a child gets, the lower his chances of continuing to suck his thumb). If your child is still sucking when his permanent teeth start to erupt, it may be time to take action to break the habit.

share|improve this answer
add comment

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.