Special Tips for the Growing Years: Sucking Habits

Published on November 3, 2015 by



Pacifier Use

Many infants and young children like to suck on thumbs, fingers and pacifiers.  Sucking is a natural reflex and necessary for feeding.  However, sucking habits can cause problems with tooth alignment and the proper growth of the mouth.  Children should stop using pacifiers by age two and sucking their fingers or thumbs by age four. If this does not happen, try to get them to stop.


Here are a few tips to consider:

  • Instead of scolding your child for sucking, praise him or her for not sucking.
  • Remember that children often suck their thumbs when feeling insecure or seeking comfort. Focus on correcting the cause of the anxiety and comfort your child.
  • Reward your child when he or she avoids sucking during difficult times, such as being separated from you.
  • Your child’s dentist can encourage your child to stop sucking and explain what could happen to their teeth if he or she does not stop.
  • If these methods do not work, remind your child of the habit by bandaging the thumb or putting a sock over the hand at night.
  • If the sucking continues, talk to your child’s dentist or pediatrician. He or she may recommend other ways to discourage sucking.


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