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Thumbsucking in Babies
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 Frequently Asked Questions

Q: My child uses a pacifier a lot. I fear that if I don't give it to her, she may start sucking her thumb. Please Advise.

Nafisa (Bangkok, Thailand )

A: Discard the pacifier. Let him suck his thumb for a while. This habit will soon vanish if you ignore it.

Dr. Subba Rao

Q: My niece puts 2 fingers in her mouth and 2 fingers of the other hand in her naval and moves about most of the time. The 2 fingers she puts in her mouth are swollen because she holds on to them tight. Everyone keeps pulling out her fingers but she doesn't stop sucking them. We are at our wits end and don't know what to do. Should we put her in a play school? At what age can she start playschool?

Manisha (Elgin, USA)

A: Thumb or finger-sucking is a pleasurable activity for the baby. Leave it alone. If you try to forcefully take the hand out it will become a permanent problem. Try and distract her every time she puts her fingers in her mouth. She will grow out of it naturally. If not, speak to her about it when she is older.

Q: My four month old son has recently started sucking his thumb. I have started giving him a pacifier, but he prefers to suck his thumb only. What should I do to stop him.

Anil (Mumbai, India)

A: Thumb sucking is a pleasurable act for the baby. You should ignore it. If you draw too much attention towards it, it might become an unsolvable problem. You need to worry only if the habit persists beyond 4 years. Please stop using the pacifier.

Dr. Subba Rao

Q: My baby boy has gotten into the habit of putting his thumb in his mouth. We don't have any objection about this, but he is taking in germs and other impurities. What should we do?

Sagarika (Dubai, UAE)

A: Thumb sucking is a normal habit. As time advances, your child will grow out of it. The best you can do to keep impurities out of his system is to wash his hands regularly. In any case, a little exposure to impurities helps build immunity, so I wouldn't worry about that aspect.

Dr. Subba Rao

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