13 Effective Remedies to Break the Thumb Sucking Habit


Thumb sucking is a natural reflex for most children. Some children even start to suck their thumbs even when they are in their mothers’ womb. In most cases they stop it before entering school. However, for few the habit is a tough nut to crack. They get addicted to it and even continue till they are well into their school.

Parents need to be very careful in sorting out this issue. Because in many occasions, it is more than just a habitual reflex and has a lot to do with anxiety and emotion of your little one. So, you must do well to handle it carefully and precautions. Here are some basic ways by which you can definitely stop or curb down on the thumb sucking habit of your child. Weaning your child from thumb sucking habit is a great job and as a parent you must be extra cautious.

Thumb sucking can cause permanent damage to your child’s thumb as well as teeth. That is why it is essential for you, as a parent to wean your child’s thumb sucking habit.

13 Effective Remedies to Break the Thumb Sucking Habit

Identify the Cause

Identifying the cause is half the job done. It will help you understand whether or not thumb sucking is a problem for your child. Most children give up on this during their Kindergarten.

Sometimes children do not let go of their thumb sucking habit because they have dental problems. On some occasions it is a social adjustment problem. In such cases the child tends to suck thumbs when teased or abused. Identifying the cause will help you hit the root problem area. In this way you can actually provide your son a solution.

Check for the Trigger

There are many children who tend to suck their thumb on certain occasions only. Like before falling asleep or when they are upset. Sometimes they do it incautiously. So, as a parent you must identify the triggers and restrain your child from doing that.


Ignore it at Times

Sometimes children tend to do things in order to trigger reactions and grab attention of their parents or other adults. If you keep on telling your child not to suck his/her thumb, then he/she will do it more. So, one of the policies will be to ignore it completely and act cool about it. Eventually they will also realize that their ploy is not working.

Use Positive Reinforcement

Positive Reinforcements often work fine with most kids. You do not have to gift him/her something but verbal reinforcement will also do.  Your little one will get to know that you value his/her effort to restrain him/her from the habit of thumb sucking and that will encourage him/her to curb on that habit.

Cover His/her Thumb

A thumb cover often works well. This is because a bare thumb will not taste the same as a covered thumb and that is why they tend to stop the sucking entirely. If your child has a finger sucking habit at night, then try and put some mitten or clothing on them.

Thumb sucking habit

Engage him/her with Activities with Both Hands

Making him/her use both the hands with lots of puzzles, Lego and play dough will make sure that your child will eventually forget about sucking his/her hand. Your little one’s brain will be engaged in something else and based on that he/she would not need to engage in the thumb sucking act.

Talk With Your Child

You need to be a part of the process. Talk with your child regarding the side effects of thumb sucking and tell him/her about the problems. Educate your child about the harms it can cause and make him/her feel responsible.


Identity Good Substitutes

Thumb sucking should be stopped before the habit of sucking itself. Go one step at a time. Substitutes like lollypops often do well. Sometimes candies also work. However, they are not sustainable options as they themselves are quite addictive in nature.

Keep Their Hands Busy

Give them as many activities as possible. In this way they will keep their hands busy and will learn to grip and turn their hands to do different things. Often art and sporting activities help in the cause.

Negative Reinforcements

Sometimes when positive reinforcements do not work then apply negative reinforcements like cutting down on TV time or not letting him/her have the favorite meal. In this way they might be extrinsically

Limit the Habit to One Specific Place

You can come in terms with your child that he/she can only suck his/her thumb when he/she is at home or just in the bedroom. This will give them the time to cope with the changing habit. In this way, you are not completely restricting him/her and also not giving complete liberty either. This is a very good way to gradually curb the habit.

Try and Make it a Night Activity Only

If thumb sucking soothes your child, stopping it on an immediate basis will be a wrong idea. For that reason you must allow it to a certain extent. If it just a night activity then it can be gradually be weaned.

Try and Stop Your Nail Biting Habits

Children get encouraged to suck thumbs or fingers when they see adults biting nails or putting their hands in their mouth. Try and curb your nail biting habit, if you have one. Do not reveal your anxiety or stress by putting fingers in your own mouth. This will give the wrong signal to your child.


Read More: 6 Tips to Help Develop Reading Habits in your Child


  • Do not put spicy sauce or cayenne pepper on your child’s thumb, in order to make him/her stop sucking the thumb.
  • Do not put duct tape on the thumb as they have high adhesive and can negatively affect your child’s skin.
  • Never physically or emotionally abuse your child for sucking thumb. This might aggravate the behavior.
  • Do not use sippy cups as these elements do not really help in the cause of curbing your child’s thumb sucking habits.
  • Do not stop him/her from sucking thumb when he/she is in pain or distress. That is a natural soothing process and stopping that might cause emotional distress.