Thumb Sucking Prevention Tactics to Try with Toddlers

Nov 19, 2021

Babies and toddlers have some instinctive behaviors that they exhibit in order to soothe themselves. One of those is sucking on things, usually a pacifier or their thumbs. Beyond a certain point, however, that behavior isn’t actually necessary and can actually cause problems for dental development. If you’re trying to get your toddler to stop sucking their thumb, there are some things you can do.

Nighttime Coverage

Because thumb sucking is often used as a soothing technique, it’s pretty common to see toddlers sucking their thumbs to help them nod off to sleep. Because it’s counterproductive for you to hang out in their room with them until they fall asleep, you’ll need a way to keep them from sucking their thumb at night. Covering their hand and thumb with a mitten or sock can act as a helpful reminder and help discourage them from sucking their thumb.

Daytime Distraction

Sometimes kids suck on their thumbs without even thinking about it or because they’re bored. If you notice them sucking their thumb during the day for either of these reasons, try engaging them in something else to distract them. Activities and tasks that involve the use of their hands are more likely to be effective at dissuading them from sucking on their thumbs.

Talk to Them

Children understand a lot more than adults tend to give them credit for, even toddlers. If you want to help your toddler stop sucking their thumb, one of the first things you should do is talk to them about it. Talking to your toddler about it will help them get to the point where they want to quit. Explain why it’s a problem. You might tell them that thumb sucking can spread germs, make their teeth look funny, make them sound funny when they try to talk, and could result in them being teased by their peers because they’re doing something that babies do. Keep your explanation short and simple. While they may understand more than you think, their attention span won’t last for very long.

Try not to stress too much about your child sucking on their thumb. They’ll eventually grow out of it. In the meantime, there are different thumb sucking prevention tactics that you can experiment with to see if they help your toddler break the habit sooner rather than later. Just be patient with them and yourself as you navigate this part of life.

Thumb sucking isn’t the potentially tooth altering behavior to watch out for as a parent. Read this next: Pacifiers and Thumb Sucking – What You Need to Know.

The pediatric dentists at Stellar Kids Dentistry can help with strategies the wean your child off thumb sucking.