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Thumb Sucking

Thumb sucking vs dummies: breaking the habit

Sucking on either a thumb or a dummy is comforting and relaxing for a child. But evidence shows that both habits can be difficult to stop.

For most children, these self-soothing actions will be a phase and will stop naturally. For a small number, however, they continue and can become a regular part of a child’s life.

So, which habit is easier to break? And how can you help your child to stop sucking?

Thumb sucking and dummy sucking

Sucking is a natural reflex that often starts in the womb. A young child might often suck their thumb when they are tired or hungry. It essentially acts as a way of calming and comforting a child. Clearly, there is nothing wrong with this.

A dummy can be an appropriate alternative to help soothe a child. Unlike a thumb it can be removed when they have been sucking too much! According to the British Orthodontic Society, dummies appear to cause less damage than thumb sucking but mainly because the habit is broken at an earlier age.

Sore thumb from thumb sucking

One of the most frustrating side-effects of thumb sucking is damaged skin. Here we offer our top tips on how to care for skin which may be cracked or split. Find out more

However, the long-term habit of thumb sucking or dummy sucking can have consequences. Both thumb and dummy sucking can lead to permanent damage to the positioning of teeth and jaws. They can also both lead to infections: when a dummy is dropped on the floor and placed back in the mouth or when a thumb wound is sucked, for example.

Which habit is easier to break?

While both thumb sucking and the use of dummies can be frustrating, there is little doubt that it is easier to stop using a dummy than to stop thumb sucking.

This is for two specific reasons:

  1. Control

Ultimately, dummies are external objects – not part of a human body – and they can be removed by a parent. While dummies can be rationed and used at only certain times, this is clearly not the case with thumb sucking.

A parent cannot be with a child at all times, and while dummies are typically not allowed at school, many children do still suck their thumbs during the school day.

2. Age

Research shows that children stop using a dummy at a lot earlier age than they stop thumb sucking.

There are alternatives to dummies, such as the use of a soft toy or blanket to soothe a child. When it comes to thumb sucking, however, the tried and tested solution is a Thumbsie®.

If your child thumb sucks it is not wise to give them a dummy. This could be merely replacing one habit with another. A Thumbsie® is an award-winning product which covers a child’s thumb (or fingers) and prevents them from sucking. Thumbsies® come in over thirty different designs, five sizes and are recommended by the Oral Health Foundation.


Thumbsie® has been given Product Accreditation, by the Oral Health Foundation - a brilliant independent endorsement for customers looking for an effective solution to thumb or finger sucking. Buy Now

Best of all, they are recommended by countless parents, as our 4.8 out of 5 stars on Google Reviews indicates.

A Thumbsie® can be worn at school, during play and at home; the more frequently it is worn, the quicker the habit will be broken. And, crucially, once they have used a Thumbsie® it is extremely unlikely that a child would revert to dummy use.

You can see our wide range of Thumbsies® here


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