How to Help Your Kid Kick the Thumb-Sucking Habit
  • Home
  • Behavior
  • How to Help Your Kid Kick the Thumb-Sucking Habit

How to Help Your Kid Kick the Thumb-Sucking Habit

With the discovery of thumbs, fingers and toes comes the fascination of putting toddler fingers in their mouth. As a parent, it can get challenging to distract them. Trying various home remedies for thumb-sucking treatment for kids, suggested by family members, relatives, and friends, can leave you overwhelmed and irritable. Don’t give up! You are not alone. Many new parents worry about toddler thumb sucking and rush to the doctor to find ways to stop that.

What is Toddler Thumb Sucking?

Toddler fingers in mouth is a sucking reflex action. It is present even before birth. It is self-pacifying and provides comfort to kids. Toddler thumb sucking is usually accompanied by other reflexes such as holding on to an ear, rubbing of hand, twirling hair strands etc. This behaviour is found in humans and even in primates such as monkeys and chimpanzees.

Is Thumb Sucking by Your Child Normal?

Toddlers’ Thumb sucking is totally normal, depending on their age. Putting objects and fingers in the mouth is natural for a growing child. It is a way to explore and understand the world around them.

As a child passes the age of 2-3 years and enters preschool, the thumb-sucking habit in kids begins to dwindle. However, even after crossing 4 years, if you find a toddler’s fingers in their mouth, it might be a good idea to consult your pediatrician and seek thumb-sucking treatment for kids.

What Are The Side Effects of Frequent Thumb Sucking Behaviour in Your Child?

  1. Exposure to Infection: The immediate problems that arise due to toddler thumb sucking are allergies, asthma, and a compromised immune system. It is very unhygienic. When a toddler puts their thumb in their mouth, he is exposed to different germs and viruses.
  2. Dental problems: Frequent toddler thumb sucking can lead to dental issues such as misaligned teeth, bite problems, and an open bite, where the front teeth don’t come together correctly, which may spoil the beautiful smile of your little one.
  3. Speech Problems: The continuous pressure of thumb sucking can also affect speech development, leading to difficulties in pronunciation due to weakened tongue muscles
  4. Interference with fine motor skills: Sucking the thumb can interfere with the development of fine motor skills, such as writing and drawing, as the child is less likely to use their fingers to perform these activities.
  5. Social Stigma: Children who continue to suck their thumbs beyond a certain age may be teased by their peers, leading to social anxiety and a negative self-image
  6. Skin problems: If the toddlers fingers are in mouth constantly, it can cause the skin around the mouth to become chapped, red, and irritated.

How Can You Stop Thumb Sucking Behaviour in Toddlers?

  1. Talk to Your Child– If your child is at the age to understand, then they can be made aware of the challenges associated with thumb-sucking. Read a book or show a video regarding the consequences of thumb-sucking. Rather than scolding your child, try to help them, as this is an emotional problem. Resorting to decisive actions can result in a power struggle between you and your child.
  2. Nail Paint- Bitter-tasting liquid can be put on the nails. This will dissuade toddlers’ fingers in mouth. However, please be sure not to use any liquid with harmful chemicals that may harm your child.
  3. Check the Pattern– As toddlers’ thumb sucking is related to emotions. They will put their thumb in their mouth when they feel anxious, afraid, nervous or lonely. So, this pattern needs to be checked. Whenever the toddler shows such emotion, they should be given immediate attention to divert him/her from offering such behaviour.
  4. Finger Guard -To stop thumb sucking in toddlers, a finger guard or gloves can be put on the fingers/thumb. It should be made sure that the guards or gloves should be chemical-free and not harmful to the toddler’s health.

Hand Stopper– In case all other ways to stop thumb sucking in kids fail and the habit is very consistent, a brace can be put on the toddler’s elbow to prevent the bending of their arm, and the hand cannot reach the mouth. This should be the last resort, as it can frustrate the toddler.

  1. Visual Reminder– A toddler putting a thumb in the mouth can be motivated to stop sucking by placing a tattoo on his/her hand. After seeing the tattoo, the toddler will be reminded not to put the fingers in his mouth. But please be careful of the materials used in tattoos, as a child’s skin is susceptible.
  2. Audio Reminder- Certain actions can be made with a sound, like clapping or whistling, to remind your toddler not to put his/her thumb in their mouth. Whenever a toddler is sucking his/her thumb, an elder nearby can make the sound to alert them. Slowly, this sound can act as a deterrent and a reminder to stop putting fingers/thumb in the mouth.
  3. Turn off the TV– If the toddler enjoys thumb-sucking while watching their favourite TV program, you should immediately switch off the TV and switch it on only when they stop thumb-sucking in kids. They will gradually understand that they must stop putting their fingers in their mouth if they want to see their favourite cartoons.
  4. Art and Craft- Whenever a toddler is idle, they will start exploring things around them. The first thing that they usually find in their hands. So, to divert their attention, the toddler must be kept busy. They should be given a lot of art and craft material and toys to dissuade and distract them from thumb-sucking.
  5. Rewards- This trick is for toddlers impressed by visual representation. Suppose they are given stars, stickers or another token of appreciation daily. In that case, the toddler will be encouraged, and he/she may stop sucking their thumbs.


It’s important to remember that toddler thumb-sucking is a natural behaviour in young children that provides comfort and security to them. However, the habit persists beyond 4-5 years. In that case, you must encourage your child to stop by offering praise and rewarding toddlers for not sucking their thumb and providing alternative comfort items, such as a stuffed animal or blanket. Consultation with a pediatric dentist or pediatrician may also help find more about the best thumb-sucking treatment for kids.

At EuroKids, we help inculcate the best habits and shed the harmful ones in your child healthily. The ease of your children is equally important to us, along with an engaging learning journey. Click here to learn more or to visit a Eurokids centre for preschool admission for your child.

Follow Us

Get Update

Subscribe our newsletter to get the best stories into your inbox!