Thumb-sucking isn’t just a quirky behavior of babies and young children. It’s actually a normal and natural part of early childhood development. Here’s why it’s acceptable for your baby to do it.
Why your baby sucks her thumb
Sucking is an instinctive behavior for newborns. Sucking on their thumb or fingers is one of the ways babies soothe themselves, and can provide comfort when they're tired or unsettled. You may be tempted to discourage thumb-sucking to prevent your baby’s teeth from coming in crooked, but it’s better to let her indulge in the habit for now. (If you can wean your baby off thumb-sucking by age 4, when permanent teeth come in, it won’t affect her pearly whites.) In the short term, the ability to self-comfort will help your baby fall asleep faster, as well as fall back to sleep on her own after waking at night.
Other baby soothing techniques that work
Most babies experience crying spells, often in the late afternoon. If this happens with your baby, you'll want to first check to see if she’s hungry, tired, or uncomfortable. Don’t fret if you can’t seem to find a reason. Baby crying doesn't always mean something is wrong. It can be a normal part of baby development, caused by a maturing nervous system.
If sucking on fingers or a pacifier doesn’t seem to console your baby, try these soothing techniques:
On any given day, one or more of these techniques may be more effective than the others, so keep trying to see what will help comfort your baby.