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Is thumb sucking really all that bad?

This is referring to babies. My 8 week old son likes to suck his thumb. I don't give artificial nipples unless necessary, like when he had to spend a week in the hospital when he was 2 weeks old and he refused the pacifier then anyway. My mom keeps telling me that I shouldn't 'let' him suck his thumb, that it is really bad for him. Why is it bad, at this age? I know that it can cause teeth problems if he keeps it up until he's 7 or something like that, but is it really all that bad? Do all kids who suck their thumbs as babies continue until they are really old?


Asked by YzmaRocks at 4:36 PM on Mar. 31, 2010 in Babies (0-12 months)

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This question is closed.
Answers (25)
  • At 8 weeks old you should be HAPPY that your baby has already found their thumb! That's a great way to self-soothe, which is what is important at this age. I would not be worried in the slightest about thumb sucking until a child is MUCH older and/or it started to interfere with their development.

    My son is 3 and still sucks his thumb on occasion, it's never been a problem for us or him! He found his thumb around 10-12 weeks.

    Dentists say there is no evidence that it causes teeth problems until they are around 8-9. I am hoping so badly that my 6 month old finds her thumb soon! So no, I would say you have nothing to worry about whatsoever ;-)

    Answer by jacksmom3707 at 9:40 PM on Mar. 31, 2010

  • It can start causing problems as soon as his teeth start coming in. Not to mention that it's basically like keeping that finger in water all night, which causes it to be tender and hurts the skin.

    Answer by Anonymous at 4:39 PM on Mar. 31, 2010

  • Don't worry. The American Dental Association says most children can safely suck their thumb — without damaging the alignment of their teeth or jaws — until their permanent teeth begin to appear. (Permanent teeth don't usually erupt until around age 6.) Also, not all children's thumb-sucking is equally damaging. Experts say it's the intensity of the sucking and the tongue's thrust that deforms teeth and makes braces necessary later. Children who rest their thumb passively in their mouth are less likely to have difficulty than children who suck aggressively. Watch your child and analyze his technique. If he sucks vigorously, you may want to begin curbing his habit earlier, say at age 4.

    If your child's thumb becomes red and chapped from sucking, you can try applying a moisturizing ointment, cream, or lotion while he's sleeping. (If you apply it while he's awake, it may just end up in his mouth. :)

    Answer by datmami22 at 4:43 PM on Mar. 31, 2010

  • It's not really bad for them when they have no teeth, but it is bad because they can begin a very bad habit and continue doing up in their toddler years or later. The problem with that is it will mess up their teeth. So, no, right now it's not bad for him if he has no teeth, but it is bad because he could make a habit. Get what i mean? lol. My cousin sucked her thumb a lot and all her teeth grew in slanted inward from where the pressure of sucking her thumb caused them to grow that way.

    Answer by Anonymous at 4:46 PM on Mar. 31, 2010

  • I suppose every one is different. I have a 15 yr old who sucked her thumb until she was in 1st grade. Her speech and teeth are fine... never even needed braces. She was able to sooth her self at night and therefore was quicker to sleep through the night than my non-thumb sucking kids. She all so was my absolute best nurser... no nipple confusion what so ever.


    Answer by Anonymous at 4:51 PM on Mar. 31, 2010

  • At that age it's self soothing and I wouldn't be concerned. Now if you child is in Kindergarten and still sucking his/her thumb it could be a problem.

    Answer by Anonymous at 5:02 PM on Mar. 31, 2010

  • My nephew sucked his thumb as a baby and he is now 10 and still sucks his thumb, make sure you break him of it at a young age or you will have a hard time when they are older. Thank god my son never got attached to paci's or the thumb.

    Answer by DilsMommy at 5:18 PM on Mar. 31, 2010

  • also to add at the age your child is its normal to suck thumbs or use a paci IMO, but i would try and break them of it at 1 years old

    Answer by DilsMommy at 5:19 PM on Mar. 31, 2010

  • I wish that were my only concern! I'd gladly take thumb sucking over an almost 5 year old who can't potty train.

    Answer by NightPhoenix at 5:24 PM on Mar. 31, 2010

  • The one trait that 'they' found in common among kids who stop or don't stop later in life (past the age of 5) is a person continually pushing them to stop. Hang in there, he is still a baby and the need to suck for comfort is very strong. He will grow out of it.

    "According to the American Dental Association, thumb sucking does not cause permanent problems with the teeth or jaw line unless it is continued beyond 4 to 5 years of age. As it turns out, somewhere between 85% and 99% of children have finished thumb sucking spontaneously before this period"

    Answer by mama_l at 5:40 PM on Mar. 31, 2010