Reflex Or Habit: Why Does My Child Suck Their Thumb?

tguard classic There are many habits your child may pick up on as they grow. One of the most common habits you might see is thumb sucking.

Thumb sucking may be a reflex when your child is young. But as your son or daughter grows older, you may find yourself wondering why they suck their thumb in the first place.

Thumb Sucking: Why It Happens

Up to 95% of babies suck their thumb on reflex. As your child gets older, they may suck their thumb out of habit because the sensation provides comfort.

Many children explore the world with their mouths as a part of oral and sensory development. Your child may put their thumb in their mouth when they’re tired, bored, scared, anxious, or just curious.

Don’t Worry Too Much

If your child is between the ages of one and three and sucks their thumb, this isn’t too big of a problem. Thumb sucking at a young age has actually proven to be beneficial for your child’s health.

When your child sucks their thumb or bites their nails, they introduce weakened bacteria from their hands into their bodies. This helps build their immune systems and reduces the risk of developing allergies later in life.

But if your child continues to suck their thumb after the age of three, it may be worth considering gently breaking the habit. You can do this by identifying the times when your child sucks their thumb and giving them another activity to do instead such as squeezing a ball.

When Thumb Sucking Becomes A Problem

According to the American Dental Association, it’s best to begin discouraging your child from thumb sucking by the age of four. Approximately 5% of children will continue to suck their thumb after the age of four or five.

While early thumb sucking begins as a reflex, by the age of four thumb sucking is more of a habit. This can be a problem because thumb sucking at this age can cause damage to your child teeth, their thumbnail, and even their overall health.

Thumb sucking appliances like the TGuard classic are a great way to deter your child from sucking their thumb. To learn more about the importance of thumb sucking prevention or where you can buy a TGuard Classic or other thumb sucking deterrents, contact T Guard today.