Home Medizin Helfen Sie Kindern, mit dem Daumenlutschen aufzuhören: 9 Tipps

Helfen Sie Kindern, mit dem Daumenlutschen aufzuhören: 9 Tipps

von NFI Redaktion

Kara Angelone’s three-year-old daughter, Addie, has been a thumb sucker from day one – quite literally. Hidden in her baby book is an ultrasound image of Addie sucking her thumb in the womb. Now, three years later, she is still not ready to let go.

„It makes her feel safe and comfortable,“ says Angelone. „I can say it helps her to calm down because whenever she feels stressed, she reaches for her thumb and calms down in a second.“

But should a 3-year-old still be sucking their thumb? Experts in psychology, pediatrics, and pediatric dentistry suggest there are things parents can do to help their children move past thumb or finger sucking.

„Sucking is a natural thing for babies,“ says pediatrician Robert Anderson. „It’s completely normal for them to use their thumbs or fingers as a routine to seek comfort and soothe themselves.“

Within the first few months of life, a baby can become a thumb or finger sucker to fall asleep, calm down, or just feel good, says Anderson.

At this stage, thumb or finger sucking is not only common but also considered harmless to a child’s growth and speech development. The question most parents ask, however, is: How long should it continue? Is it okay for a child to be sucking their thumb when they’re ready for preschool?

„Usually, around the age of 2 to 4 years, a child will start developing coping skills alongside thumb or finger sucking, such as speech development,“ says pediatric dentist Mary Hayes.

Hayes explains that these coping skills will replace a child’s need to suck on a thumb or finger. However, for some children, breaking the habit of thumb or finger sucking can be more challenging, leading to issues for their growing mouth.

„Previously, we thought that it would only have minimal impacts on the mouth and jaw if a child stopped sucking by the time their permanent teeth came in,“ says Hayes. „Research now shows that thumb or finger sucking can have effects at a younger age – as early as 2 to 4 years old.“

Holistic Dentist Mary Hayes, a member of the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, explains how sucking puts pressure on the sides of the upper jaw and the soft tissue on the palate, leading to a narrowed upper jaw where the teeth don’t align properly vertically. While this can be corrected with braces, it can also result in speech issues like lisping, which may require therapy.

However, the long-term effects of thumb or finger sucking don’t end there. If a child has a crossbite, a condition where the upper and lower teeth don’t align correctly, sucking can worsen the situation. A „thumb hole“ in the palate caused by sucking can shift the chewing pressure to the back teeth, leading to an imbalance and affecting the structure of the mouth and jaw as they grow.

„The key is to work with the child to reduce their dependence on thumb or finger sucking before coping mechanisms become a habit,“ says Hayes.

As your child reaches preschool age, it may be tempting to constantly remove their thumb from their mouth, especially if you believe it could impact their dental growth and development. However, it’s important to resist that urge and approach it differently.

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