Thumb sucking is a dangerous habit

Suck your thumb

Why do babies suck their thumbs?

"K o n r a d!" said the woman mama,
"I'm going out and you stay there.
Be pretty, neat and pious,
Until I come home again.
And above all, listen to Konrad!
Stop sucking your thumb;
Because the tailor with the scissors
Otherwise comes along very quickly,
And he cuts his thumbs
As if it were paper. "
(The story of the thumbsucker, Heinrich Hoffmann)

What are the reasons for sucking Damuen?

When the child's tiny thumb becomes their greatest friend and confidante, parents don't need to be on the alert right away, but they shouldn't lose their vigilance.

Even in infancy, we experience that suckling is done on the mother's breast a sweet happiness means. It is not just about eating, just as important is the associated experience of security, peace, closeness or the perceived consolation. The knowledge that they are loved and cared for sets the child on the path to develop trust in their surroundings.

Sucking the thumb not only breastfeeds the innate and natural need to suckle of the baby, it also satisfies the cravings for the aforementioned emotions. If, for example, the mother lacks the time to cuddle her child, the thumb is just right. For some children the pacifier is enough, others discover that their little thumb is a constant companion, that it is available anytime and anywhere.

Suck your thumb: sleep aid or permanent condition?

In the first one and a half years of life (so-called oral phase), the mouth is the central organ of perception. "The Hand-mouth coordination (Interaction of hands and mouth) begins with thumb sucking in the womb. In order to play, the child primarily needs mouth and hands, even after birth. This normally leads to the thumb sucking being restricted to the rest periods ", says the pediatrician Dr. Rudolf Weitz. A relaxed child who plays a lot in the fresh air, knows how to occupy himself or is occupied by the parents, forgets sucking the thumb.

Suck: Not dangerous as a sleep aid

Children who use thumb sucking as an aid to falling asleep, to bridge boredom or as a momentary means of relaxation are not at risk of later suffering from a deformed jaw and / or misaligned teeth. Parents should be aware of the Intensity and frequency Pay attention to sucking, because these are the decisive factors.

Parents can only learn to differentiate between satisfying their normal sucking needs and excessive thumb sucking by observing their child. As already mentioned, sucking your thumb during the "rest periods" is not a cause for concern. It is different if the child prefers sucking the thumb to the active urge to discover and sucks for hours.

Thumb sucking as protection against allergies?

According to a New Zealand study, thumb sucking can not only calm and keep children busy, it can even harden children against allergies. In a long-term study, the researchers found that those children who followed this habit later suffered less from allergies. And the assumption that people who come into contact with dirt and bacteria at a young age are less at risk of allergies is not at all new. Nevertheless, the authors of the study also explicitly point out that the results are not intended to encourage thumb-sucking, as an actual health benefit has not been proven. After all, intense thumb sucking can also result in tooth and jaw problems.

How thumb sucking can affect your jaw and teeth

The jawbones of an infant are soft and malleable, even the first erupting teeth tend to rise rather disoriented. The contact with the soft tissues (lips, tongue) determines the position of the teeth. The gentle pressure of the tongue forward and the lips backward aligns the front teeth for years.

Excessive, very intense thumb sucking can cause growth of both the teeth and the jaw harmful to health influence. Because "every deformation of the growing organism is caused by counter pressure," says Dr. Weitz. The thumb in the mouth can be the cause of the upper jaw being pulled forward, pointed and narrow. This also causes the upper incisors to align incorrectly. But it can also lead to an open bite, i.e. the rows of teeth gape apart. The pressure exerted by the thumb pushes the upper teeth forward and the lower teeth backward.

Excessive suckling is a symptom

Many orthodontists recommend that if the need for breastfeeding thumb sucking becomes a habit that the child does not change after the age of three, parents should be careful to wean their child from sucking. It is important to get to the bottom of the causes of thumb sucking, because no child sucks for no reason. If the child feels left alone, if he lacks the necessary closeness and security, sucking his thumb becomes a kind of refuge. But overexertion and tiredness can also hide behind it. Dr. Weitz points out that "sick" thumb sucking is not a real problem in everyday children's practice. But he also draws attention to the fact that children who suck their thumbs excessively should be presented to the pediatrician.

How to get rid of the thumb?

Under no circumstances should parents force their child to stop sucking their thumbs. Bitter-tasting creams are also not a good solution. Simply by giving the child what they are looking for can be given and enable them to get used to sucking their thumbs. Motivations are important in this process - praising the child when the thumb is not in the mouth. Some parents reward their little one's progress with one "Anti-sucking calendar". On the days when the offspring has not sucked their thumb, they can draw a sun on the corresponding calendar line. Punishment and reprimand work in the opposite direction. They intimidate the child and thus encourage thumb sucking.

Pacifier or thumb?

Many dentists believe that pacifiers made from silicone or latex are more orthodontic than the thumb. Therefore, it is healthier to offer the child a teat. But here the views of the medical professionals diverge. For example, says the pediatrician Dr. Rudolf Weitz: "The thumb is 'more bite-sized' and, in a positive sense, more 'jaw-shaping' than any industrial product in the world!" He justifies his statement with the fact that the child already sucks the thumb in the womb, but not a newborn with one "Sucking bite" comes into the world.

However, it is undisputed that a pacifier can easily be thrown away later, perhaps even by the child themselves. The thumb is and remains within reach. Weaning away from the pacifier may be easier, at least the parents have several options for making the pacifier unattractive. For example, you can stick the teat, the air escapes, and the child no longer has fun sucking.

Or maybe one night she'll kick it "Pacifier Fairy" in the nursery and exchanges the beloved teat for a long-awaited gift. Only a few children are then ready to give their heroically acquired gift for another night with the pacifier.

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