THE WORLDS #1 THUMB AND FINGER SUCKING RESOURCE - since 2014

When to Try Home Remedies for Thumb Sucking

We get it, the sucking noises are driving you mad from the back seat of the car. You ask your child a question and can’t understand the reply because the finger is in the mouth. You notice other kids that do not suck their thumb taking interest in other things and being more active. These are all normal thoughts for a parent to have.

It makes perfect sense to try home thumb sucking remedies first. However, to maximize your chances for success the first time you should use a recommended product to stop thumb or finger sucking. We have all heard of hot sauce on the finger and have used threats to try and change behavior in our kids. The Thumb sucking habit is different than other behaviors, and so it is important to approach and stop the habit a little differently too.

Here are several home remedies to stop the habit, and those you should avoid, and why.

FINGER AND THUMB SUCKING REMEDY TREATMENTS

  1. Follow a motivational program – Visit the Parent Toolkit to learn the best ways to motivate your child, plus download our FREE motivational calendar to track daily progress.
  2. ACE Bandage around the elbow – This method is time tested and the earliest recommended dentist treatment to stop thumb sucking for kids on record. Wrap a stretchy ACE Bandage around the elbow tight enough to create resistance when the elbow bends. The elastic band resists the bent elbow and tires the arm so the child loses the will to continue sucking.
  3. Socks on the hands and arms – This method really can only be used at night. We like the socks especially because they do not have fingers. We don’t want the child to give special treatment to any one finger. This is a gentle approach to stop the habit. The sock might need to be pinned to the pajama shirt in the case they child tries to take them off. This is a good place to start to find out how cooperative you child will be as you try to help your child break the habit. Who wants to suck on a sock anyway?
  4. Mittens or gloves – You can go to the dollar store and buy a pair of mittens. In the summer this may not be comfortable for long. The glove or mitten would need frequent washing. You child may be embarrassed by the awkwardness of wearing a glove in the wrong season or wearing them all day long.
  5. Band-Aids wrapped on the fingers – Band-Aids are cheap and who wants to suck to a Band-Aid? This is a good test to see if all your child needs is a little encouragement and a little reminder. It is not likely the Band-Aid will not last the whole day, it will not survive handwashing and the child could easily take it off. You will probably go through a box in just a few days, but it is an inexpensive solution to find out more about your child’s habit. If after the first box, you may decide to move on to a more sophisticated solution.
  6. Read to them – The habit is so natural to the child, they are often not really aware they are doing it. Sometimes all that is needed is to call attention to the habit.

Read to your child out loud. Give your child instructions to not suck on the thumb or fingers while reading. If you find the finger creeping into the mouth, stop reading without explanation why you stopped. Does your child notice you stopped? Did they realize the reason you stopped was because they started sucking their thumb?

Do this often, make it a game to see if you are making progress. This is quality time together you both can enjoy.

WHAT NOT TO DO

Hot sauce on the finger

Hot sauce, lemon, jalapenos, and essential oils are not a good solution to finger sucking. We really don’t like these choices. We don’t recommend food items or favors as we want them to be healthy eaters and not creating lasting negative memories about certain foods. Most importantly, they’ll rub their eyes with their hands and then you’ve really got trouble. Some of this stuff can really sting the eyes and some are not good for the teeth.

Tips for using thumb sucking remedies at home

  1. Identify triggers before you start – Does the binky or the stuffed animal make your child want to cuddle up and suck on a finger? Try weening the child away from these things before you stop the habit. Does the favorite TV show put your child in thumb sucking mode? Try taking a bath instead or going for a walk.
  2. Don’t move – If you are moving or have a new baby on the way, this may not be the best time to stop the habit. Your child may not get the attention he or she needs, and it could be hard on both of you to overcome the habit.
  3. Make a deal – Trade no sucking for something the child wants- this doesn’t have to be a trip to Disney World. Maybe a special call from Grandpa or Grandma at the end of the day, adaily trip to the playground or an extra story at bed time, for example.
  4. Be positive and supportive – We don’t recommend shaming the child for digit sucking. Let you child know how proud you are for their small successes! Challenge them to keep trying.