sucking fingers all the time

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sucking fingers all the time

Postby kitty2012 » Wed 26 Jun, 2013 12:26 pm

Hi Nagala
my daughter is nearly 8 months old and likes sucking her two fingers of left hand. She has been doing this since when she was about3 months old. I replaced her fingers with a dummy as her nails were getting affected. now at 6 mths I tried to wean her off the dummy but she started sucking her fingers again. This time she is so hooked on to them that she even tries to suck them while I am feeding her solids and milk. I have tried putting mittens and some lemon on them to make them distasteful but nothing is working. I am concerned that this habit may give her dental problems later. can you please give me some guidance on what to do.
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Re: sucking fingers all the time

Postby NgalaOnline » Thu 27 Jun, 2013 2:05 pm

Hi Kitty2012

Thank you for your post. Sucking on fingers is a very normal part of development for most babies. It can be used as a soothing technique, but it is also often a sensory activity for them. Babies of this age are usually very interested in mouthing things, as the mouth is the most sensitive part of the body that can give them the most sensory feedback. The hands are readily available at all times, so it is not uncommon for babies to suck their hands a lot. Often in the second year of life when they do less oral sensory behaviour (ie are less inclined to put things in their mouth) and when their hands are becoming more coordinated and sensitive (making it easier for them to use their hands to explore the environment rather than their mouth) this hand sucking may stop or reduce of it's own accord. In infancy hand sucking will often happen due to tiredness or teething pain. At eight months of age a baby is less likely to respond to oral instruction such as being told "no" or being directed to do something else with their hands, than they are when they approach an older age. It is quite likely that your child will cease being so fixated on sucking her hands by the time she reaches toddlerhood, but if not you may find that by around 18 months of age she will begin to respond to verbal redirection when she is sucking her hands.

It is common for parents to worry that hand sucking will lead to an ongoing habit as the baby gets older, or to worry about dental health. Often these concerns do not come to pass as the child limits the habit after some continued development. Thumb sucking is more likely to be problematic for dental shape than finger sucking, as often the child will exert a forwards pressure on the jaw whilst sucking the thumb and this pressure is less likely when sucking fingers. Although there is some contention over the issue, many dentists are also of the opinion that thumb sucking only impacts dental shape if the sucking continues once the child has permanent teeth coming through.

It is very likely that if you ignore the issue (or perhaps just focus on putting her to bed when you see the finger sucking if it seems to be a tired sign from your baby) it will resolve itself with time. If you would prefer to do something you may like to just remove your baby's hands from her mouth each time you see them in her mouth and provide her with distraction or something to hold at this time. You might like to include a verbal cue such as "no fingers" although it is unlikely your baby will understand this much at this age. It is not necessary to frown or show a negative response to the sucking. Soft mittens for a few days are an idea if the sucking is causing her skin or nails to break down, but are best limited to being a short term intervention as they can frustrate your baby's ability to explore her environment. Lemon juice can be harsh on a baby's skin and may sting if the baby has any areas of broken skin, but some parents have had success with rubbing the cut end of a raw artichoke on the baby's skin. The artichoke tends to stay on the skin for a while and tastes unpleasant when raw.

I hope that this information is helpful and that this issue passes with some time.
This information is general in nature and should not be used as a substitute for the personalized assistance that can be received from the Ngala Helpline by telephone.

For families residing in Western Australia you can also contact the
Ngala Helpline
Telephone 9368 9368 or 1800 111 546 for country access
Available 7 days a week, 8am to 8pm
or request a callback online

For helplines in other Australian states please follow this link
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