Five Useful Tips to Help your Little One Break their Thumb-Sucking Habit
Flickr Creative Commons via Andrew Taylor

 When your baby is brand new and finds its little thumb, it is considered adorable and very convenient. However, when baby becomes toddler and the thumb-sucking has continued, it may be cause for concern. As a parent, it can be a struggle to get your little one to break their thumb-sucking habit, but it is possible. Take a look at the following tips to help you assist your little one in breaking their habit of sucking their thumb:

Talk about It

Explain to your child that you care about their health and that sucking their thumb can cause issues with their teeth and speech. Being honest and straightforward may be enough for your child to decide on their own to “quit cold turkey”. Many times, it is best to ignore the problem altogether, since your child might be sucking their thumb in order to get attention. However, if this doesn’t work you’ll need to talk to your child about it to let them know you disapprove.

Make It Gross

One technique that parents often find helpful is putting something “gross” on your child’s thumb to discourage thumb-sucking and help them break the habit. Choose something that is not toxic. Put it on their thumb every night, or as often as needed. While this is often viewed as a more extreme tactic, it is a good way to train the brain quickly and break the habit.

Make it Difficult

Similar to the previous method, you can keep your child from sucking their thumb by blocking it all together. A Band-Aid or a glove on the hand of choice can prove helpful as a reminder that they should not suck their thumb. Since they will be greeted with an odd texture instead of their comforting thumb each time they start to suck, it will keep them from doing it all day long.


While some parents try the punishment route, typically rewards work better with young children. In this case, positive reinforcement may be exactly what your child needs. After all, who doesn’t like working towards a goal and earning a prize? Explain to your child how you will reward them after each goal is met. Set up a chart and let them earn stickers for each day they have not sucked their thumb. Start with a reward after just one full day of no thumb-sucking and move on to two days, etc. Offer a reward of a small toy or treat after they have accomplished the preplanned goals.

Use Medical Gadgets

If the above tips do not work, you may need to advance to medical intervention. A pediatric dentist in Anchorage, AK at Kids Dental Tree suggests that you ask your child’s dentist if they recommend a “thumb crib” or similar device to stop thumb sucking. If you’ve tried several methods without any luck, you might need to take your efforts to the next level before the problem gets any worse.


Many parents will attest that getting habitual thumb-sucking to stop can be a constant battle. However, with a few helpful tactics, you can help your child change their habits and grow out of the thumb-sucking phase.