You are currently viewing Ways To Wean Your Child off Thumb Sucking During Sleep

Ways To Wean Your Child off Thumb Sucking During Sleep

Parents are justifiably concerned about the potential harm that thumb sucking could do to their child’s development. Learn ways to wean your child off thumb sucking during sleep.

Thumb Sucking as a Sleep Inducer

Thumb sucking is often used as what sleep scientists call a “setting event” that helps prime the brain to prepare for sleep. The habit can be soothing and comforting for children, especially at bedtime. However, prolonged thumb sucking beyond the age of three or so, or when permanent teeth begin to come in, could lead to potential dental problems and concerns regarding social development. That’s why it’s crucial for parents to gently guide their children away from thumb sucking as a way to fall asleep.

Strategies for Weaning Your Child off Thumb Sucking During Sleep

If your child is no longer an infant but is still sucking their thumb at bedtime in their pre-school years, direct your child to an alternative “setting event” to prompt them to fall asleep. This transfers the sleep signal from thumb sucking to something else.

Replace the thumb sucking habit with something that provides comfort, like a stuffed animal or a favorite blanket. Make sure to reserve this item only for bedtime to connect the item with sleep, making it an effective sleep aid.

Praise and Positive Reinforcement

When you notice your child is not sucking their thumb during sleep, offer praise and encouragement the following day to reinforce their healthy sleep habits. Positive reinforcement helps increase the likelihood of kids repeating the desired behavior.

Use a Device To Stop Thumb Sucking

Try a device to stop thumb sucking that’s designed to be comfortable to wear but that removes the pleasurable sensation that thumb sucking provides. For example, the TGuard AeroThumb’s design cancels the sucking sensation that provides the soothing the child seeks. This makes it easier to transfer that sense of comfort to a safe “lovey” the child doesn’t put in their mouth.

Establish a Soothing Bedtime Routine

Create a calming bedtime routine to help your child feel more relaxed and ready for sleep. Options can include reading a book or listening to calming music. A consistent routine helps signal to your child’s brain that it’s time to sleep, reducing the need for thumb sucking as a sleep-setting event.

Be Patient and Consistent

Remember that breaking a habit takes time. Be patient, and maintain a consistent approach to help your child adapt to a new sleep prompt gradually.

By trying the above strategies, you’ll be well on your way to helping your child develop better sleep habits. Sweet dreams!