Preventing Finger Sucking in Toddlers: Tips & Strategies
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Preventing Finger Sucking in Toddlers: Tips & Strategies

Toddler-hood is a time of milestones. It is nothing short of a metamorphosis, to be honest! Watching your cradled baby grow and discover their senses and movements can be a joy to behold. And of course, one to record and keep forever in adorable photographs.

However, certain behaviours, though adorable and natural, can be a cause of concern if they do not stop beyond a certain age. Finger sucking is a major example of that. This simple act can lead to major issues such as speech problems (read: lisping) as well as feeding skills if left unchecked. Not to mention tongue issues such as abnormal resting posture or restricted range of motion.

Causes of finger sucking

You might find your child sucking on their fingers for a variety of reasons. First of all, babies have a natural instinct for actions such as rooting and sucking, instincts that develop even before birth. This action actually has a soothing effect on them, serving as a reason behind the habit of finger sucking.

Second of all, when babies start teething, their gums start to itch. They might use the action of finger sucking to soothe that itch and calm themselves, which can also lead to habit formation.

That said, most babies will quit eating their fingers around the age bracket of 2 to 4 years. If they do not though, it may be a cause for concern and a harder habit to break. Ergo, experts suggest that if you notice your toddler finger sucking often, you must try to reduce it from the age of 2 onwards.

How to stop babies from putting their fingers in their mouths 

You might find yourself scrambling for a solution, wondering how to stop a baby from putting his/her fingers in their mouth once you notice this has become a habit. Though it might seem like a challenge at first, the solutions to combat this problem are fairly simple to execute. Let us walk you through ways that can solve your query of “how to stop baby from chewing thumb”:

  1. Use positive reinforcement

You might often find yourself telling your baby to stop chewing their thumb or fingers several times throughout the day. However, if you see that they stop the minute you tell them, be sure to acknowledge their effort and appreciate them for it. This kind of positive encouragement can keep them motivated to quit this habit eventually.

  1. Be consistent with your efforts

Pepper your baby’s day with constant, gentle reminders to stop sucking on their fingers whenever you notice them indulging in it. Be mindful of the tone you adopt and the words you use though. You do not want them to feel awful about this. Since finger sucking is a soothing action, toddlers might resort to it when stressed by negative comments. So keep that in mind.

  1. Do not scold them

On the same lines as the point above, if you want to put an end to finger chewing in babies, you must not criticise them or put them under duress for their habit in any way. Putting too much pressure on your toddler to quit the habit will definitely get them stressed, and they may even act out.

  1. Consult with your dentist

Or even your paediatrician. They may have a couple of more tips and tricks in store that can help you break this habit. Take your child along with you when you visit the doctor and have them talk to the doctor about finger chewing, why they do it, how they feel and the like. Often the way a doctor explains the consequences of a bad habit may have a greater impact on a child’s psyche than a parent’s, thus helping in a gradual decline of finger sucking.

  1. Teach them other ways to relax

Since finger sucking can be a way to combat stress in toddlers, you can cut back on this act by teaching your kids different ways to manage their stress. This could be anything. From simple breathing exercises to listening to music or practising yoga. Any activity that calms their mind without causing any further negative impacts on their health can help. Even something as easy as colouring a drawing.

  1. Invest in sensory replacements that can help

As you already know, the habit of finger sucking in toddlers can arise for multiple reasons. But one of the main ones is to find a replacement for comforting sensory inputs that they otherwise do not have access to. You can stop them from resorting to their fingers by trying out any one of the safe and hygienic options given below:

  • Chewable jewellery

Also known as chewelry, it is an effective way to curb the habit of finger chewing in babies. You will find plenty of crushable jewellery necklaces and pendants in the market that you can give your child to chew on everytime they feel the urge to suck on their fingers or thumbs.

  • Mouth tubes

They look exactly as they sound. They are chewy tubes that kids can chomp on as many times as they want. Capable of withstanding wear and tear, they can also be used to correct improper chewing habits as well as to strengthen your child’s jaw.

  • Pencil toppers

Once your toddler is of preschool age, you might find them frequently chewed ends of pencils and pens lying around in their school bag. You can prevent this soggy mess from arising by covering their pencils in chewable toppers. These generally come in cool and colourful avatars so your child will not mind carrying one to school and flaunting it during class.

We hope this gives you a fair idea of how to stop your baby from chewing their thumb. Be patient with them though. As an adult, you already know that no habit once formed is easy to shirk. It takes time and persistence. That said, you can be sure we will continue reinforcing positive ways to deal with and put an end to finger chewing in our classrooms at EuroKids. We care just as much about the proper growth and development of your child. If you want to know more about us, you can drop by at a EuroKids centre nearest to you.

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