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Many children tend to stuff their thumb into their mouth and keep sucking on it all day. And if pull it away, you’ll get the angriest look ever, followed with incessant crying. Why does this happen and what can you do about it? We’ll tell you.
Why Does Your Baby Keep Putting His Fingers in His Mouth?
There are many reasons why little ones suck on their thumbs and fingers. Some of them are:
- Most of the time, sucking on fingers is a baby’s way of handling a lot of stimulation. These could be new people, noise, and anything else that can get overwhelming for him. Sucking on something reminds him that he’s safe. This is usually accompanied by yawning or moving the head from one side to the other.
- Another popular reason why babies suck on their fingers is hunger. They don’t understand that only the breasts holds milk, and think that sucking on their thumb will give them milk. This may also be a way of communicating that he is hungry. When babies go through growth spurts, During growth spurts, even after feeding, he may suck on his fingers.
- It may also be that your baby is bored, and so he is putting his hands inside his mouth. This can happen when he wants to play but everyone is asleep. At other times, your child might want to play with hanging toys. If they’re kept out of reach, he may suck his fingers instead.
- If your baby doesn’t spot you in the same room, is struggling to pass a fart or has a wet diaper, he may not start crying right away. Your baby might try to soothe himself by sucking his thumb with utmost focus.
- Many babies tend to sleep while feeding and develop the habit of having a nipple in their mouth when they fall asleep. Your child could be using his fingers to put himself to sleep if he doesn’t find a breast or nipple.
- As your baby gets older, the process of teething This causes pain and irritation in the gums, and a lot of drooling. Your baby might feel like chewing on something, to relieve the pain. Putting fingers in the mouth and pressing on them is the quickest way he handles the trouble.
- This may also be your baby’s way of exploring the world around him. AS his vision and hearing haven’t developed fully, he may depend on his sense of taste for getting to know the things around him.
How Long Does This Last?
The habit of thumb and finger sucking usually lasts till a baby turns 6 or 7 months old, and sometimes may continue till the age of 2. However, even a child who has stopped sucking may regress to it if he feels under stress.
How Can You Stop Your Baby From Putting His Hands/Fingers in His Mouth?
- If your baby is sucking on his finger, he might be hungry, especially if he is in the growth spurt Breastfeed him right away if possible, or feed him with bottled breastmilk or formula milk, if you need some rest. Do keep your doctor in the loop about his progress.
- If your baby shoves his entire fist into his mouth, you can entice him to remove his hand by giving a toy. This will make him want to grab it, for which he would have to bring his hand out. There is a good chance he will stuff the toy instead so opt for a soft toy or something that is clean and chewable. Some babies also keep sucking one hand and use the other hand to grab the toy.
- This might come as a surprise, but it is best to let your baby be himselfit is a good sign of his development and means that he is gradually getting independent. Do check whether his diaper is wet or he’s facing any discomfort.
- Teething pain can get out of hand for your little one. A quick home remedy is to use a cold teething ring. The low temperature can alleviate quite a lot of the pain he can chew on the ring without any worries.
- Some babies want to suckle even after they’ve had their fill. In such cases, to break this habit, you can give him a pacifier after every feed.
- Spend time with your little one. Talk to him, sing, or play with his favourite toy. With a little bit of stimulation, he can be distracted from sucking his fingers.
When Should I Be Worried?
Thumb and finger sucking isn’t a cause of concern till your baby’s teeth erupt. If your child’s teeth are in place and he still puts his hands inside his mouth, it can affect the positioning of the teeth. And this will increase the chances of dental problems. According to the American Academy of Paediatrics, only children above the age of 5 who have this habit need treatment.
There are various reasons babies put their hands in their mouth – from the most obvious to surprising ones. Be alert, and regularly opt for ways to stop your baby from doing that. Soon, he will either learn to distract himself and let go of the habit completely.
Also Read: HFMD in Babies