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Is Thumb Sucking Just a Phase? Here’s What You Need To Know

The sun is a star. Water is wet. Newborns, infants, and toddlers suck their thumbs. These are just natural facts of life that all humankind knows.

But when does something considered innately natural become an unnatural actuality? When does a habit once perfected in the womb become a detriment to a young child? Is thumb sucking just a phase? Or is it possibly something worse? Let’s examine the answers to these questions. Here’s what you need to know about this common childhood habit.

The Onset of Thumb Sucking

Finger or thumb sucking is a useful calming mechanism that tends to emerge during infancy, yet the action can begin in even earlier stages of life. Many babies discover the soothing nature of sucking before birth. Others happen upon the reflex months after entering the real world.

Either way, the desire to suckle as a way to attain sustenance before the development of normal swallowing patterns is commonplace in young children. According to the pediatricians at WebMD, the practice also allows for self-comfort and entertainment during the early formative years.

What Causes a Habitual Childhood Phase

When does a normal and innocent tendency become a damaging act of dependence? Finger sucking is often described as the earliest known addiction, but at its core, it’s simply an inborn or learned behavior with pleasurable associations.

Ergo, is thumb sucking just a phase? Here’s what you need to know: even experts don’t know for certain what causes this behavior to linger past early childhood. Yet, as the medical specialists at Kids Health mention, “a habit is just a phase in the normal developmental process and is not cause for alarm.” What is critical to note is how much time a child spends with the ingrained habit during this phase. For your child’s well-being, keep a close eye on the intensity and duration of the sucking to determine if intervention needs to occur, given their age.

Helping Your Child Stop: How Old Is Too Old?

How old is too old in the context of prolonged thumb sucking? Most early childhood phases spontaneously fade away by the time a child reaches school age. The American Dental Association advises halting this habit between 4–5 years old to avoid permanent oral health problems.

Fortunately, parents can address these concerns about their child’s health with various strategies. The staff at Healthwise conclude that innovative devices—such as thumb guards—can help children stop the thumb sucking habit. The AeroThumb from TGuard is one such effective productto consider for your family. The right habit-breaking solution may require patience and dedication, but it’s certainly in reach to provide the necessary support.


Breaking the Thumb-Sucking Habit”from WebMD

Thumb-Sucking: Helping Your Child Stop”from University of Michigan Health

Your Child’s Habits”from Kids Health