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Thumb-Sucking and Other Baby Soothing Techniques

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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.

 
 

 
 
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What parent doesn't have questions about sleep. How much sleep does my baby really need? Why does my newborn sleep all day and wake up at night? How many naps should my toddler take? Get some answers to your sleep questions.
Read Baby Sleep Patterns
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Our clever newborns quickly figure out that sucking on their fingers is soothing when they're upset. We can help comfort our babies, too, by rocking them, swinging them in a swing, or carrying them in a front pack. Get more comfort tips.
Read Soothing Sucking and Other Comfort Measures