My youngest daughter sucks her thumb constantly. Should I be worried? How can I get her to stop?
Childhood habits like thumb sucking are not usually something to worry about. In fact, many young kids suck their thumbs, probably as a way to cope with stress or anxiety. Thumb sucking can be soothing and comforting, and can make a child feel safe.
Most childhood habits go away on their own — especially if a parent ignores them. But if kids continue to suck their thumbs into the school-age years, it may cause shifts in their teeth and affect the way the mouth grows.
If your daughter doesn't seem to be outgrowing her thumb sucking, try some positive reinforcement. Reward her with an extra bedtime story or other favorite treat when she doesn't suck her thumb. Be generous with the praise, too. It can also help eliminate anything causing her anxiety or stress. And remember, most habits in young kids are just passing phases.
Reviewed by: Larissa Hirsch, MD
Date reviewed: February 2010
Have a question? Email us.
Although we can't reply personally, you may see your question posted to this page in the future. If you're looking for medical advice, a diagnosis, or treatment, consult your doctor or other qualified medical professional. If this is an emergency, contact emergency services in your area.
Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.
© 1995-2014 The Nemours Foundation/KidsHealth. All rights reserved.