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Should we discourage thumb and finger sucking?

Oh how I love a thumb or finger sucker.

I sucked my two middle ‘fingies’ and twirled my hair until grade 3. My first baby found her thumb, or as we call it a ‘flumb’, when she was about 14 weeks old. I remember it so vividly. I walked into her room to check on her and she was fast asleep with one arm still swaddled and one hand out and her teeny tiny thumb in her mouth. I actually had tears in my eyes because it was so beautiful. At 3.5 years old she is still devoted to that ‘flumb’ and I won’t be encouraging her to change it any time soon.

There’s lots of misinformation out there about thumb and finger sucking for babies and sleep. As I’m sure you probably all know, babies can find sucking both for nutritive and non-nutritive purposes very comforting. 

Babies that suck their fingers or thumb are generally great little sleepers as they have a source of soothing attached to their body. They can’t throw it out of the cot or lose it in the night, which is of course a benefit over the dummy/pacifier. 

If you notice your baby favouring a thumb or a set of fingers as a source of comfort, I would absolutely recommend letting them find what works best for them. Many parents fear the habit and instead try to give a dummy. A dummy can also be a wonderful source of comfort for many babies and if yours takes to it, then there is no issue. A thumb can’t be lost though and doesn’t require you to replace it, so if it looks like your baby favours a thumb or finger, then go with it.

From a dental perspective, generally it is not an issue until a child’s adult teeth start growing. Most children have dropped the thumb sucking habit by then, but if you’re concerned you can make a dental appointment to review.

In the meantime, let your baby and toddler find a wonderful source of comfort with their fingers and thumb.

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