Benefits of Thumb Sucking

How will it affect the child when you make them stop sucking their thumb? I mean they suck their thumbs for comfort so what do you do to keep them from being emotionally hurt?

In today’s society, thumbsucking is often met with negative connotations. If you’re a parent you’ve probably recognized benefits of thumb sucking, and are wondering if the pros outweigh the cons. For babies especially, there’s rarely any harm to thumb or finger sucking. The sucking is a big source of comfort and security for your baby, but there is an age when it should stop.

Thumbsucking is completely natural

The act of non-nutritive sucking is not only natural, it’s instinctual. Thumbsucking is especially common in babies having ages up to two years old – in fact, 20% of babies suck their thumb up to their first birthday. One of the benefits of thumb sucking is that its rhythmic pattern creates a calming effect.Because of this, some consider digit sucking to be a child’s first demonstration of both independence and intelligence.

Still, you must know when to quit the habit. If, however, they continue non-nutritive sucking past 3 years of age, the AAPD recommends that parents step in to help break this habit. Take the Thumb and Finger Sucking Test to find out if you’re ready to quit.

7 surprising benefits of thumbsucking:

1. Emotional Comfort – The main purpose of digit sucking is for its calming effect. When a child is upset, it has been shown that the movement used during thumb sucking actually regulates the rhythms of their breath and heartbeat. Thumbsucking as a tool to help them relax.

2. Immune Booster – A study concluded that children who are habitual thumb suckers have a lower risk of developing allergies later on in life compared to those who did not adopt this habit. This is mostly due to the greater exposure of bacteria and other pathogens. Although we have declared a war on germs, increased exposure is actually the good way to develop a superior immune system to help combat illness.

3. Aids in Digestion – Sucking helps to regulate peristalsis by triggering the muscles to contract, thereby pushing food through the digestive system. It also increases saliva flow. This is an advantage as a baby’s gut health and digestion is directly related to its overall immune system and well-being.

4. Teething Relief – Another benefit of thumb sucking is that it allows the child to manage their own pain, to a degree, as they can use it to distract themselves. While incoming teeth irritate the gums, causing itching and tenderness, children are able to lightly gnaw on their fingers as a way to alleviate some of the discomfort.

5. Sign of Independence – Children who suck their thumbs display heightened independence compared to those who do not. This was shown in a study in which children and their mothers were placed at opposite ends of a room. The children who were thumb suckers naturally entertained themselves longer and wandered further than their counterparts.

6. Improved sleep – Better and longer periods of sleep is another of the health benefits of thumb sucking.Babies often engage in non-nutritive sucking as a way to both fall asleep and stay asleep longer, resulting in more well-rested parents and children alike.

7. Gives parents peace – One of the most overlooked benefits of thumb sucking is the benefit to parents; peace. With a child who is capable of self-soothing, parents are given more relief and freedom. The baby’s comfort in digit sucking allows mom and dad to relax just a little more.

Thumb Sucking in Children vs. Adults

By the time we reach adulthood, most of us have ended sucking thumb and replaced it with new habits. However, a small percentage (0.2%) of adults never left their childhood addiction of thumb sucking. Although it is rare for someone to continue digit sucking into adulthood, there are indeed some who do it privately.For the select few still trying to justify it, sorry guys, but there are no benefits to thumbsucking as an adult.