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Thumb Sucking

How to stop toddler thumb sucking

We discuss how to stop toddler thumb sucking and strategies to help you and your toddler resolve this habit.

Seeing a small child with a thumb in their mouth can seem like one of the most natural sights of all. And in many ways, it is. Often babies start thumb sucking in the womb and continue after birth. Sucking a thumb or finger can be incredibly comforting for a child. It eases anxiety and makes them feel safe. Over time they grow to associate thumb sucking with security.

But what may start as an innocent habit as a baby can become more serious as the child ages. If your child is still sucking their thumb beyond the age of seven, things can be especially concerning. There is evidence that prolonged thumb sucking can lead to issues with tooth and jaw development and can cause overbites and general overcrowding of teeth.

A number of leading dental organisations such as the Oral Health Foundation, the British Orthodontic Society and the American Dental Association state that thumb sucking is bad for oral health.

Want to know more about thumb sucking?

We provide a detailed analysis of thumb sucking and highlight a range of key statistics from organisations such as the British Orthodontic Society, the American Dental Association, the Mayo Clinic and Colgate. Find out more

Other potential issues include speech and language problems and a tendency to get mouth and thumb infections. All these issues can be painful and costly to fix.

So, how do you make sure your baby doesn’t continue sucking as they become a toddler?

Here are our top tips:

INVESTIGATE: We know that toddlers suck their thumb as a soothing mechanism. So, parents need to investigate why. Is there a trigger, for example? Perhaps your toddler is anxious about a new sibling or a house move? Perhaps they are worried about starting nursery school? Once you know the reason, you are better placed to stop the habit.

DRAW ATTENTION: It is very possible that your toddler does not realise they are thumb sucking. If this is the case, gently draw attention to it so they understand you want them to stop.

BE CALM: It is vital that you show that, although you want the behaviour to stop, you are not angry. If you appear frustrated with your child’s thumb sucking, their anxiety levels are likely to increase.

EXPLAIN: It is important to explain to your child why you would like them to stop. One option is to show them images of the potential damage to their teeth. Many children are visual learners, and a photograph of possible side-effects can really help them to understand what could happen.

TEAMWORK: We encourage parents to reach out for help, whether that be from grandparents, friends, carers or teachers. Children value consistency and it is important that they receive the same messages when visiting family and when at school. To break the thumb sucking habit, there must be a concerted effort in all areas of a child’s life.

REWARD GOOD BEHAVIOUR: Children value rewards. They respond well to encouragement and praise, and the use of positive reinforcement can be an important parenting tool. At Thumbsie, we offer a very popular reward chart which can be used to monitor your child’s progress. This can be tailored to suit your family’s own targets and goals and comes with a range of bright, colourful stickers.

Thumb and finger sucking habit?

Help your child prevent the problems that prolonged and aggressive thumb and finger sucking can cause Buy Now

USE A THUMBSIE® AND MAKE SURE IT FITS: Toddlers often need a physical barrier to stop thumb sucking, which is what a Thumbsie® offers.

Thumbsie® produce guards which fit over the thumb like a glove and are secured around the wrist with Velcro, coming in five different sizes and over 40 possible fabrics. Thumbsie® is an award-winning product, having been recognised at a wide range of awards ceremonies since our founding nearly a decade ago. We have a 4.8 out of 5 rating on Google Reviews and are officially accredited by the Oral Health Foundation.

An ill-fitting Thumbsie® is no fun, however. To make sure that your child’s Thumbsie® fits perfectly, use our special measuring guide. Remember: the snugger the better.

Enter our #lovemythumbise photo competition

Your child could win a £25 voucher of their choice just by sending in their thumb sucking photo Find out more


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Thumbsie® wins Innovation of the Year at the Dental Industry Awards

We are proud to have won Innovation of the Year in the National Dental Industry Awards, Best Business Women Awards for Best Consumer Business 2019 and Best Product in Family Network National Awards 2020.
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Need to know more about thumb sucking statistics?

We provide a detailed analysis of thumb sucking and highlight a range of key statistics from organisations such as the British Orthodontic Society, the American Dental Association, the Mayo Clinic and Colgate.
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