Thumb Sucking
Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Thousands of kids start life out by sucking their thumbs. The habit is extremely difficult for the child to quit unless you wait until he outgrows it. Dr. Edward Hill discusses thumb sucking in todayís 60 Second Housecall.

Thumb sucking is a common habit among many children, particularly in those under age 2. It is associated with the need to seek food. In some infants it can signal fatigue, sleep, hunger, teething and shyness.

The biological impulse to suck usually decreases after the child reaches six months of age. Past that age, however, thumb sucking can become a habit children use to comfort themselves.

Some children also suck their fingers, hands or their entire fists in addition to, or instead of, their thumbs.

Frequent or intense thumb sucking beyond 4 to 5 years of age can cause problems, including dental problems, thumb or finger infections and being teased.

If your child is still sucking his or her thumb at age 6 or older, you may need to intervene. Parents can set rules and help distract a young child from thumb sucking. The child can take a more active role in controlling thumb sucking as he or she matures.

For North Mississippi Medical Center, Iím Dr. Edward Hill.