My baby is sucking his thumb, what should I do?

At what age can a baby grab and suck their thumb?

If the baby is reaching for his little thumb and therefore appears to be wanting to suckle, he may not have waited until birth to try it: for some babies, the thumb comes out very early. ” From life in the womb, around the 4th month of pregnancyUltrasound shows image of small fetuses sucking thumbs,” but Edwige Antier, pediatrician and author of my healthy child (Eyrolles 2021) explains it: “One might think that in the turbulent sea of ​​​​the amniotic sac some were in oral contact, passing their little fingers in front of their mouths. The lips exercised their sucking reflex, and the baby-to-be took a liking to it…”. A beautiful story that begins long before our babies are in front of our eyes, but it’s not like that for everyone: babies sucking their thumbs aren’t that common. On the other hand, many will have too a pacifier, pacifier or comforter brought directly from the parents.

Why does a baby suck its thumb?

Because he’s hungry and exercising his sucking reflex

In the beginning, however, thumb-sucking is only faira kind of “training” for breastfeeding who awaits him. As the pediatrician explains: “The newborn has to meet their nutritional needs when his umbilical cord is cut. He instinctively crawls to his mother’s breast and sucks on the milk. If neither the breast nor the bottle of milk is offered to him, Thumb sucking calms her down… Eventually, until the need is so great that their warning system causes tears. »

To make sure

When it is tired, stressed or hungry, the child sometimes puts its thumb to its mouth for a small “dose” of comfort: the sucking reflex provokes a secretion of endorphinshormones that provide sense of well-being his home.

Discover your senses

We can also add that the baby goes through from birth to the twelfth month an oral phase which represents a strong sensory area around the mouth. He then takes great pleasure in operating it and activating his sucking reflex.

The thumb, advantage or problem?

While it may temporarily calm your baby down, thumb sucking can do the trick become an obstacle to the proper establishment of breastfeeding, Especially if you want to use the breastfeeding recommendations “on demand”. For the pediatrician, the thumb can lead to this some confusion in the mother-child relationship generated by breastfeeding: “The thumb grip is also a form of request, it is the sign that the newborn is not staying enough in the mother’s breast and we are overly relying on the time of breastfeeding (a very common practice in France) From then on, the baby naturally calms down like that, but The breast is not stimulated and produce less milk. And the baby will always be hungry…

If the thumb or the pacifier are not yet a habit in children, good practice is important for the pediatrician Prevention: breastfeeding the baby as needed, whether breast or bottle! So he needs neither his thumb nor a pacifier. Once the baby become dependent, from the first two months, don’t make him feel guilty or stress him out. He will reduce the suction power when he discovers the joy of playing and speak. So the main thing is to play with him, exchange ideas, tell stories…

Thumb, pacifier or pacifier… is that the same thing?

In fact, these are all replacement Breast or bottle used to soothe baby. The problem with these substitutes is that we often don’t listen to the baby’s needs. “We invented the concept of ‘non-nutritive sucking’. With a pacifier, placed right in the pregnancy suitcase, we often hope adjust the schedules. bottles, relieve mom whose nipples are sore, and soothe the baby. ” says Dr. antier. But it’s a lure that can further disrupt the establishment of breastfeeding.

Does the thumb affect sleep?

All babies have one sleep in small cycles, and needing to be reassured between cycles. “The thumb has an advantage over the pacifier here, that’s itit’s… in the immediate vicinity ! Baby can take it back without disturbing youwhen he doesn’t find the pacifier and asks you at night”. However, this advantage is also a disadvantage when it comes to stopping the thumb that won’t move away.

Does the thumb affect the milk teeth?

It’s not the suction itself that deforms of the jaw and affects the milk teeth. For example, breastfeeding has no effect. In contrast, the thumb actually creates “shifts” between the jawbones, often asymmetrical, as wella cavity of the palate (Source 1). The pacifier also creates its deformations depending on what position the child occupies and the upper incisors “forward”. It is therefore advisable to remove your thumb or pacifier early. That’s what dentists believeBeyond 3-4 years this little habit needs to be stopped avoid dental problems.

The baby will reduce suckling when he discovers it
the joy of playing and talking.

If you have set yourself a mandatory date, a birthday, starting school, Santa Claus, it will not be easy for your child, because a transition period is necessary. “Certain somewhat abrupt methods sometimes cause insomnia, abdominal pain, or convulsions that are more difficult to overcome than thumb-sucking! ‘ the pediatrician recalled. But, patient and adapted tools to the reactions of the child, can be implemented with your child:

  • Tries to swap his thumb bit by bit for a duvet press to calm down.
  • talk to him interact with him as much as possible about the fact that he’s awesome and offer him your support without ever scolding him. He needs to understand that you are there when he needs it and that communication also allows him to calm down.
  • Choose a time without stress. You don’t have to plan this at the same time as potty training or the birth of a little brother or sister.
  • Be patient. You can initially allow him the thumb when he goes to bed, then only on the weekends to gradually get him used to not having it.
  • propose to him a challenge. For example, why not highlight his efforts with a chart noting his accomplishments?

As parents, should we worry if it takes time?

Not, no stress when the child holds their thumb as usual. “The little ones, with whom we talk a lot and who like to talk, play, often give themselves up her thumb,” says the pediatrician. “But others take longer endure breakups, moments of stress or tiredness. “, she adds. While the bite is deformed and the baby teeth can be advanced, today’s orthodontist knows how to straighten them if necessary. We need to level out speech and reading well before putting appliances in our mouths.

All kids quit, right?

The vast majority, in fact, do without their thumb. However, it exists Adults, even couples, even parents hiding to suck their thumbs. “Psychological support in this case can help to rediscover the frustrations of childhood that did not allow her to abandon her…” advises the pediatrician.

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