How to Stop Thumb Sucking Habits in Children – 17 Easy Ways

How to Stop Thumb Sucking Habits in Children

Last updated on May 12th, 2020 at 08:02 am

Being parents is not easy, especially in the early years when your kids are growing up. Once, they grow up and get that maturity to understand what is good or bad for them, you’ll get some respite. But early on, you may face several challenges with your little ones. One of the major challenges is to stop thumb sucking habit in your kids. This is a very common issue which every four out of ten parents face while raising their little ones. Thumb sucking is however, a natural habit of newborn babies but the problem occurs when they slowly grow up but refuse to get rid of this habit. Kids over 3 years must stop their thumb sucking habits and if your kid has not been able to do that, then you have to take the charge and ensure that your kids are not sucking thumbs. Even if it’s not easy to stop thumb sucking habits in children, there are ways to get it right. And today in this post, I am sharing 17 wonderful and easy remedies to stop thumb sucking habits in children. If you are tired of trying different ways without much success, then here’s the post you should check.

Well, you may feel that your young one is stubborn and so your task is going to be difficult. But let me tell you, that it may be a little challenging but it is definitely not impossible to make your child get rid of this bad habit. Moreover, you do not need to worry so much as I know some of the coolest and easy remedies to stop thumb sucking habits in little children. I will be talking about 17 of them in details today, so if you are looking for quick and simple remedies to ensure your kids are not sucking their thumbs then keep reading this post.

Little kids suck their thumb and fingers to seek comfort or to induce sleep. But you have to keep a strict eye on them so that they are able to get rid of this habit before they grow up and start facing all sorts of difficulties due to this bad habit.

Well, there are several reasons behind why you should stop thumb sucking habits in your kids once they are about 3 years old. Listed below are the reasons, thumb sucking habits should be stopped after 3.

  • Firstly, the hands are not always clean and so if they suck their thumb all the time, it will become an easy access for the germs to enter their bodies. The immune system of the little kids is not that strong and so resisting the diseases will be a little difficult. Result, your kid will fall sick quite often and you will have to rush to the doctor frequently.
  • Secondly, constant thumb sucking can actually lead to misalignment of teeth and affect the root of their mouth seriously. In other words, there may be permanent changes in their teeth, jaw shape and bite which may not be pretty to look at when they grow up.
  • Thirdly, the thumb sucking habit may also seriously affect their speech so much so that many such children end up requiring speech therapy when they grow up. Hence, it must be controlled in the early years of childhood.
  • Fourthly, thumb sucking can lead to cracking and chapping of the skin in their thumb and may aggravate into some serious thumb nail infection as well.
  • Lastly, such children may have to face social difficulties as well when they grow up like for example bullying and detesting by the fellow peers. This is perhaps the most important cause of concern as such bullying may affect a lot psychologically. In many cases, such kids are seen to be less intelligent, less charming, less amiable etc.

Now, that you know why is it so important for you to stop your kid from sucking thumb early, let us check the remedies that can help you to stop thumb sucking habits in children.

How to stop thumb sucking habits in children?

As you already know about different negative consequences of thumb sucking habits in kids, I am sure you would want to help your kids get rid of this habit. Listed below are some of the easy to apply remedies that’ll help you to stop thumb sucking habits in children.

Stay calm

Most of the time you will feel worried or at times get too much fed up with their thumb sucking habit, which may make you shout or yell at your little one. But, you must stay calm and try to control your emotions. This is necessary as getting so much impatient and shouting on your kid may worsen the situation. The child may get more nervous and start sucking the thumb all the more. They may also stop cooperating if you scold and punish them every time you find them sucking thumb. So if you are serious about stopping thumb sucking habits in your children, then clam down and work strategically.

Identify the cause

Not all kids suck their thumb for long, so if your child is doing it, then there must be some reason behind that. If you can identify that reason, then half of your job will be done. Many a times, kids do it when they have some dental issues; others do it when they face difficulty in adjusting to any situation. Sometimes, they also do it when they are scared, anxious or are teased by others. So, identify the cause and reason behind this. Once you know the reason behind their thumb sucking habit, you can work on it and try to resolve the problem from the root.

Engage them in activities

One of the remedies to stop thumb sucking habits in little children is by keeping them distracted. Every time you notice your kid sucking their thumb, try to distract them or engage them in some ‘two-hand involved activity’. This may include letting your child hug a cuddly soft toy or making them play some game or give a stress ball to squeeze or probably reading a book or making them do some painting or any other thing that will keep their hands and mind busy.

Use the praising technique

Little children love when praised or appreciated for anything and so you can easily use this technique as one of the remedies to stop thumb sucking habits in your child. Every time, you see them removing their thumb out of the mouth, praise him/her a lot. Constantly remind how good he/she is or how great job he/she has done by removing the thumb out of the mouth.

Make them aware

Educate your child regarding the possible side effects of sucking thumb. Once your child is a little grown up and realizes the harmful effects of thumb sucking, they will willingly give up the habit. To make them realize about the negative side effects, you need to talk to your child constantly. Teach them what side effects it has and that things may take a more serious turn in future if he/she continues sucking the thumb. Proper education is very much needed and once he/she gets that, he/she will turn more responsible and once that happens, you need not worry about the thumb sucking problem anymore.

Make them realize that they are grown up

Well, this forms a part of the talking process that I was just talking about. Here, you have to make him realize that he/she is all grown up and grownups do not suck the thumb. If your child is a fan of any cartoon character or any comic character like for example, Ben 10, then try to relate him/her with that fictional character. In other words, tell your child that his/her favorite Ben 10 does not suck the thumb, then why will he/she do it. This is a good tactic and many little children do get motivated to stop their thumb sucking habit with this simple trick.

Use a thumb cover

If you are simply fed up with the thumb sucking habit of your child, then you may use any thumb cover and wrap that around the thumb. You may use plastic to wrap the thumb or tape, band aid, etc. so that your child will not be able to open the cover so easily and hence will avoid sucking of the thumb. While this is one of the great remedies to stop thumb sucking habits in little children, it however acts as hindrance for the child to play or eat properly.

Apply lime juice or something bitter on the thumb

Many little children hate the taste of lime juice and if you are lucky enough and your child too hates it, then this simple trick is going to be of great help in stopping thumb sucking habit in your child. Every time he/she feels like sucking the thumb, he/she will taste the juice of the lime and slowly will get rid of the habit. However, you have to be careful that they do not insert the finger into the eyes.

In case you are not sure about using the lime juice technique, you may use bitter things as well in its place. Most children hate neem juice or bitter gourd juice, so you may try out these as well. One of the kids in my neighborhood gave up the habit of thumb sucking with the help of neem juice.

Offer rewards

Positive reinforcement may work great in this regard and you can use this strategy as one of the remedies to stop thumb sucking habits in little children. What you have to do is that when he/she is sucking the thumb, you will have to tell him/her that if he/she stops that, then you will give a present to him/her. And, when he/she does not do that for a long time, you may actually give a little present like a sticker, or a toy etc. It is not that you have to give the present immediately; you may tell that you will give it soon and then when you eventually buy anything for your kid, you will tell him/her that it is because he/she has not sucked the thumb so long.

Try any substitute

One of the main reasons why children suck their thumb is that they find it very soothing and comforting. So, you may try out any substitute to stop that habit. Like, for example, when he/she is very stubborn and will not stop thumb sucking, then you may give him/her a candy, lollipop or a mint ball to suck. This will distract him from the actual thumb sucking and will make him/her concentrate on the substitute. However, do not use this every time as eating the lollipops or the candies too much is not much good for health.

Do not pay too much attention

Many children do this thumb sucking just to attract the attention of the elders and so if you can identify that this is the reason your child is sucking the thumb or fingers, then immediately stop paying much heed to him/her but do keep a secret eye on what he/she is doing. This lack of attention may actually discourage your child and he/she may luckily stop the thumb sucking habit.

Use ace bandage

An ace bandage wrapped around the elbow of your child may work as one of the effective remedies to stop thumb sucking habits in little children. The primary reason behind that is when the ace bandage is wrapped around the elbow, twisting the elbow becomes a little uncomfortable. This ace bandage keeps the hands uninterrupted but it will cause discomfort for your child to bend the elbows in order to insert the thumb inside his/her mouth.

Use ordeal therapy

Well ordeal therapy or in other words, taking the help of reverse psychology, you may be able to stop the thumb sucking nature of your child. What you have to do here is tell your child that he/she is only sucking the thumb by which he/she is getting unfair with the other fingers. Hence, he/she must suck the other fingers for equal duration as well. Slowly, your child will be tired of the entire procedure and may eventually give up his/her thumb sucking habit.

However, the only problem with it is that most of the child tends to understand that parents are opposed to thumb sucking and so they may find this behavior unnatural and may kind of suspect it. For this reason, instead of doing it yourself you may take the help of someone else like for example, any good friend or any other family member who is quite good with tactfully handling little children.

Stop your nail biting habits

Many of us might still have this problem of nail biting unknowingly which may actually encourage your child to suck his/her thumb. See, it is quite obvious if he/she sees any one of the parent putting fingers inside the mouth and biting nails, it is going to have some sort of effect on him/her, one of the possible ones being continuing this thumb sucking activity even after growing up. So, you have to control your anxiety, stress no matter what and stop your nail biting habit as that will kind of help you in stopping the child from sucking the thumb. In fact, it is not just you, but gives this instruction to the other members of your home as well.

Set up alternative sleep inducing props

In most cases, little children suck their thumb to induce sleep in them. They feel the comfort and hence fall asleep fast. So, if this is the case with your child, then you may take the help of some alternative props. For example, lullabies and music are good option to try. You must sit beside your little one comforting him/her till the time he/she is fully asleep.

Let the thumb rest at night

Most pediatricians say that the maximum damage to the thumb is caused mainly by over biting that happens during the night when the child is fast asleep. So, discourage your child from falling asleep with his/her thumb inside the mouth. You may also give him/her some soft cozy and big toy like a teddy bear so that he/she can wrap the hands around it and fall asleep. You can also make him/her fall asleep with a book or any toy in the hands.

Wait patiently

The other thing that you can do is to wait patiently. Many kids continue their thumb sucking till they are five, six or seven and eventually they stop. They may not stop all at a time but will lessen the habit and one day they will completely stop doing it.

The pediatricians say that the little children continue their thumb sucking but they stop by six or seven years due to peer pressure or bullying in schools. Hence, sometimes waiting patiently can actually be very rewarding for you and so you may try it out if all of your other attempts of stopping your child from thumb sucking fail.


Till the time a child grows up and learn to distinguish between what is right or wrong, the parents have to play a crucial role in their lives guiding them in the right path. During this time, parents have to face several challenges. In fact, challenges are a part and parcel of parenting. Some disruptions might be easy to solve, some a little more difficult. While there can be several problems that parents have to solve, one such issue is definitely how to get rid of the thumb sucking habit of their child as fast as they can.

Thumb sucking has a lot of side negative effects, 5 of which we have already discussed above. So, you must always keep a strict eye on your child and try out every possible way to stop the thumb sucking habit.

See, it is quite natural for a newborn to suck the thumb but when he/she is 3-4 years and still continuing it, then that is very odd and that is when you need to start taking actions seriously. Today, we have discussed about how to stop thumb sucking habits in children and I have shared 17 easy and simple hacks to stop thumb sucking habits in little children. These solutions are not just effective but are also quite easy to implement. You can actually try each one of them and see which one gives the maximum results in stopping thumb sucking habits.

Well, I understand that being a father or mother, you constantly worry about your kid but, you have to be patient. This is because such habits often die hard and hence you cannot expect overnight miracles to happen. You have to give time to your child so that he/she slowly gets rid of the thumb sucking habit naturally.

Are you worried about your child’s thumb sucking habits? Well, then you may like to some of the tricks discussed above to stop thumb sucking habits in your child.

Ever dealt with bad habit? What worked for you in stopping thumb sucking habit in your child?

If you have any suggestion or if you know any other tricks that can be of help to stop thumb sucking habits in children then please share with us.

And finally before I wrap up, please keep supporting us by liking, commenting and sharing these posts with others.

Until then, stay safe, stay happy and take care of your little ones.

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About Babi Ghosh 269 Articles
Babi the chief editor at bodyandbeans is a professional yoga instructor and a fitness freak. She has done her master’s in history from Kolkata University. She is passionate about healthy eating and living practices.

1 Comment

  1. I used to suck my thumb as a child to my parents frustration and dismay. Thankfully they’re both very patient people and through their perseverance I eventually stopped!

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