Comfort Habits

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Comfort habits are things that older babies and toddlers do in order to comfort or soothe themselves, such as thumb or finger sucking, using a pacifier or carrying a favorite blanket. In Jared’s case, it is thumbsucking.

I have read in some parenting books and magazines that thumbsucking is part of a baby’s life and that we should let it come naturally and not prevent the baby from doing it. And that time will come when this will pass and will no longer be a problem.

He started this habit when he was 2 or 3 months and we just let him then. But now that he’s already 16 months, we are really bothered because he has not yet been able to get rid of this habit. He does it when he’s bored or when he’s not doing anything and when he goes to sleep. His dentist told us to try to control this habit or divert his attention when he starts to suck his thumb. She also told us that it may also develop protruding teeth or pick up an infection while sucking his thumb. I got some tips from a parenting website on how to deal with habitual thumbsuckers, here they are:

  1. Dont make your child feel conscious about sucking her thumb.
  2. Dont nag your child.
  3. Dont worry about it. Your child will pick up on your concern, which will in turn cause her to worry.
  4. Try to distract her with a toy when she begins to suck her thumb. But do it as subtly as possible or she will catch on.
  5. You can try bribing or rewarding an older child for not sucking her thumb.
  6. Corrective measures such as restraints, elbow mitts, bad-tasting substances painted on the fingers, etc. usually backfire. Pulling the child's thumb out of his mouth will only serve to make him rebel against this restraint and encourage him to continue the habit.
  7. Encourage the child to give up the habit in a friendly, non-judgemental manner.

We will try to do some of these things and I hope he will then eventually stop it.


scrapgurl said...

Poor Jared! I hope he outgrows it quickly!

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Lynnette said...

Zach thumb sucks too but just to make himself sleep. His thumb sucking doesn't bother me at all since I know he will outgrow it himself :) Don't worry Jenny, I'm sure Jared will outgrow it in time, he's just 16 months anyway. Thumb sucking is normal for kids under 3 yrs.

Jenny said...

hi lynnette! good thing Zach does it only to make himself sleep.. Jared thumb sucks most of the time. The skin on his thumb has become a little rough compared to his other fingers :( If it still continues he might have corns on his thumb just like what I've seen on other toddlers who thumb sucks..

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