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Why do some children suck their thumbs?

28 Apr 2016


Thumb sucking is a common habit among children. At some point, though, you might think, "Enough is enough." Here's help encouraging your child to stop the behavior.

Why do some children suck their thumbs?
Babies have natural rooting and sucking reflexes, which can cause them to put their thumbs or fingers into their mouths — sometimes even before birth. Because thumb sucking makes babies feel secure, some might eventually develop a habit of thumb sucking when they're in need of soothing or going to sleep.

How long does thumb sucking usually last?
Many children stop sucking their thumbs on their own sometime during the toddler years — between ages 2 and 4. For older kids who continue to suck their thumbs, peer pressure at school usually ends the habit.

Remember, though, even a child who's stopped sucking his or her thumb might revert to the behavior when he or she is stressed or anxious.


Mayo Clinic Staff, (No Date). Thumb sucking: Help your child break the habit. Mayo Clinic [Online]. Available:


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