How to get my child to stop sucking their thumb?

Thumb sucking is one of the hardest oral habits to break. Breaking your child of this habit is testy. This is the one thing that soothes your child or brings your child comfort. You encourage them to stop, but unlike a blanket or a stuffed animal that you can hide or giveaway, you can’t do that to their thumb. It sits right in front of them reminding them daily they are here if they need it. Temptation at its worst.

So here are the few tips I have to break your child of this habit. Can I get a thumbs up to thumbs out??

Before reading, if the picture below is your child I would scroll down to age 6+ recommendations. No I’m serious. It is REALLY hard to get a child who has been sucking their thumb in your womb to stop before age 6. So let it ride and start saving up for some braces.

Age 0-3
If your child is under the age of three, this is the easiest stage to break them of their habit.

  • First I would encourage them to stop sucking their thumb because they are almost three!! yay!!
  • If they associate thumb sucking with a blanket or stuffed animal, pack it up (this is extremely important)!
  • Continue encouraging your child for a week and let them know at the end of the week if they have stopped, you all could go get a special prize.
  • If for one week your child is still sucking their thumb I would hold off until they are 4 (another milestone)
  • Also, if you have other major events going on at this time (moving, a new job, etc.) I would hold off. I would only attempt this when the environment around them is stable.

Ages 4-6

  • If at home encouragement has not worked,  have their pediatric dentist counsel them at their next visit.
  • Active counseling by their dentist coupled with some physical reminders usually does the trick.
  • However, if your child does not want to stop sucking their thumb, this method will not work. Again, the most important is that your child has to have the desire to stop.
  • Tools that can help serve as reminders are Mavala Stop (linked below and also my favorite), band aids on their thumbs (their character or choice of course), a sock/mitten worn at night with packaging tape lightly wrapped around the wrist,  or a glovey.

Age 6+

  • If your child has not stopped sucking their thumb by this age and non invasive methods have been unsuccessful, a referral to the orthodontist, our favorite one is Crout and O’Dell Orthodontics, is recommended.
  • Thumb sucking can cause their front teeth to move forward and their palate to become narrow causing jaw and teeth alignment issues.
  • The video below shows how a thumb habit appliance can help cease their habit and also improve the alignment of their teeth and jaws.

I hope this post was helpful in you and your child’s approach to stopping their thumb sucking habit. So can I get another
Thumbs UP for Thumbs OUT!

Also, I would LOVE to hear of any success stories! Email or message us and we’ll post it! For Blog post reminders, follow us on Instagram @creativepediatricdentistry

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