How Can I Help My Child Stop Thumb Sucking

Newborn Tips#1: Don't Hush-A-Bye-Baby
You don't have to be quiet while the baby is sleeping. The womb is loud, and newborns are used to the noise. When ours first came home, we watched television and I would vacuum, wash dishes and talk on the phone around her while she slept. She got used to sleeping with noise, and I could get stuff done. I am still able to vacuum in her room while she sleeps (she is 14 months), and she is peaceful and well rested when she wakes up.
Newborn Tips#2: Soothe Your Wailing Newborn
When my baby cries, I comfort her by patting her back in a heartbeat-like rhythm. That helps her burp more quickly, and it also helps her relax if she's crying from insecurity. If this doesn’t work, I also try one or all of Dr. Harvey Karp's five calming moves: swaddling, shushing, holding her on her side, swinging her or letting her suck. Sometimes it takes all six!

Additional Information:

A very common habit among kids, thumb sucking can be very difficult to break. Understanding thumb sucking can help you encourage your child to stop the behavior. But why do children do this? Babies have natural sucking reflexes which can make them put their thumbs into their mouth. And since this makes babies feels secure, there are those who develop this habit when they go to sleep or are trying to soothe themselves. Here are some tips to help you.

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Newborn Tips#3: Help Get Your Baby to Latch
If you are having latch-on issues while breastfeeding your baby, you can use breast shields to help the process. This was a wonderful tip that I learned from my lactation consultant. I had to use the shields for an entire month before my baby would latch onto my own nipple without them. Had it not been for the breast shields, I would not have been able to continue nursing my baby.
Newborn Tips#4: Get Prepped
At 3 weeks, babies’ days and nights become more predictable, and you can focus on yourself in addition to your newborn. One way to do that is by reducing your stress level - and having everything ready for your hungry baby and yourself is one way to do that. Start by prepping for the next feeding as soon as the previous one is over. For example, after an 11 p.m. feeding, get ready for the 2 a.m. one by prepping whatever you need for feeding and putting out fresh drinking water for yourself so you don’t have anything to think about in the middle of the night. During the day, take advantage of the baby’s naps to work out, shower or catch up on e-mail, or take a nap too.
  • Limit the time your child thumb sucks, explaining to them that this is only an activity they can do at home and during sleeping time.
  • Do not confront your child and tell them to stop thumb sucking directly. Recognize and praise them when they are not doing it, instead of criticizing when they are.
  • Discuss with your child their thumb sucking behavior. Tell them that you will be there to help them when they want to stop this habit.
  • Never stop your child from thumb sucking when they are injured or hurt. Thumb sucking comforts them and prohibiting them from doing so only traumatizes them more.
  • Practice self-awareness, helping your child recognize if they are sucking their thumb and offering alternative ways to soothe them like a stuffed animal or blanket.
  • Do not use those commercial products designed to stop thumb sucking. This is a cruel way to get your child to break the habit.
  • Think of creative ways to get your child to understand that he is already growing up and he should stop the habit already.
  • Do not use a mitten or glove as a quick fix to stop the habit. Doing so will only frustrate them and cause more anxiety, making them want to thumb suck all the more.
  • Keep in mind that your child will eventually grow out of their need to suck their thumb when they are good and ready. They will eventually give up the habit.
  • If you have any concerns about the effects of thumb sucking on the teeth of your child, schedule an appointment with your dentist now. For some kids, a quick chat with their dentist on the importance of breaking their thumb sucking habit is a lot more effective than a talk with their parents. There are also cases where the dentist might recommend that the child use a special mouth guard or another dental appliance that interferes with thumb sucking.

    Newborn Tips#5: Keeping Your Baby Awake During Feedings
    When our baby was eating slowly and sleepily, my husband and I would massage her cheek to stimulate her to eat faster. A gentle stroke with a fingertip on her cheek was all it took, and on those long sleepless nights, this simple trick was a godsend! Our friends have found it works great with their infants too. When babies eat efficiently until they're full before going to sleep, they sleep for longer between feedings. And that means you’re both likely to be calmer!
    Newborn Tips#6: Help Your Baby Bond with Dad
    Make sure your baby has ample time alone with Daddy. His touch and voice are different than yours, and this will begin a bonding process and give you a break. Plus, it gets the baby used to being with someone other than you. The first few times can be hard. Make sure your baby is fed and well rested, as this will give you at least one or two hours before you're needed again. Then leave Dad and the baby alone. If you stay nearby, make sure the baby can’t see or hear you, and resist the urge to go into the room and "fix" things if she starts crying. Your baby cries with you and you experiment to find out what's wrong. Dads need time to do this too - in their own way. By allowing this time, your child will learn there is more than one way to receive comfort, which will help immensely when you leave your baby with a sitter or another family member for the first time. You could have your partner bathe her, put her to bed or just read or talk to her.
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