Is Thumb-Sucking Bad for Babies?

Feb 3, 2019 | Key Sleep Tips & More

Everyone has heard the story of their friend’s sister’s college roomate’s brother who sucked his thumb until he was 12 and thus required extensive dental surgery to repair his teeth.

Is this an urban legend? No. It happens. 

Is it by any means the norm? It is absolutely not. 

Thumb sucking: It’s one of the biggest concerns I hear from parents, most especially when we are working on removing a pacifier as a sleep crutch – “But, won’t he start to suck his thumb then? Isn’t that worse?!”

The short answer: No, it’s not.

Thumb sucking is perfectly normal and safe for babies and young toddlers.

While mastering healthy, independent sleep skills, children often find this way of self-soothing and it helps them with this adjustment.

Thumb sucking is not a sleep prop.

All babies suck their thumbs at some point; it is one of an infant’s natural reflexes. They often begin to suck on their thumbs or other fingers while they are in the womb. It makes some infants and young children feel secure and happy.

Most babies outgrow this on their own and rarely ever carry the habit later in to childhood.

Thumb sucking does not generally last for a significantly long time, and is usually something that babies do less as they get older and spend more of their waking hours exploring their surroundings.

Think about it – when you are at the playground, you will see far more preschoolers still using soothers than sucking their thumbs. Why? Because you need both hands to explore and play!

Erin Junker is a Professional Infant & Toddler Sleep Consultant, and owner of The Happy Sleep Company, working closely with tired parents to help them help their little ones get the healthy, restful sleep they need. Follow The Happy Sleep Company on Instagram and Facebook - let’s get your family the healthy, happy sleep you deserve!

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DisclaimerThe advice provided by The Happy Sleep Company is not a substitute for medical advice. The advice on this website is provided solely for informational purposes in connection with common early childhood sleep issues that are wholly unrelated to medical conditions. Always seek the advice of your doctor or another qualified health practitioner with questions regarding medical conditions or the health or welfare of your child. 

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