How to Stop Thumb Sucking in Kids

Your baby likely started sucking their thumb in the womb and perfected the habit as an infant. When a child is young, it’s normal to pop a finger or thumb in their mouth as a way to calm down, self-soothe, or fall asleep.

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Once a child reaches toddlerhood, thumb sucking often goes away on its own. However, some older kids replace it with other habits, like nail-biting

If thumb-sucking is used as a coping skill, a child starts to develop other methods between the ages 2 and 4. For example, developing language skills often naturally ends the practice of sucking the thumb.

If the behavior continues into the preschool years, issues can arise with both thumb-sucking and pacifier-sucking. If a child doesn’t stop the practice naturally, it can lead to developmental issues, both in the mouth and with speech.1

Although peer pressure at school typically curbs the habit once a child reaches age 5 or 6, a parent might want to take measures to stop thumb-sucking long before that time.

Thumb and finger sucking can impact a child’s mouth and jaw as early as 2 years old. The sucking puts pressure on the soft tissue of the roof of the child’s mouth, as well as on the sides of the upper jaw.