Why Babies Need to Suck

Sucking is a natural instinct and behaviour for infants. They do it to be nourished and fed. Many people might find sucking an unpleasant act. According to experts, this behaviour gives the following benefits and setbacks:

thumb sucking in children

Advantages of Sucking:

  • Sucking creates a soothing effect in moments when children are not at ease or are uncomfortable. It helps them to fall asleep and calm down.
  • Sucking satisfies a baby’s normal reflex.
  • Infants learn about the things around them through their mouths and sucking is a form of exploration.

Disadvantages of Sucking:

  • Sucking can be addictive. The longer the habit, the harder it is to curb it.
  • Sucking may cause abnormal teeth development as the growth of the tooth follows the thumb or the pacifier instead of the original gum line.
  • Speech problems such as lisp may develop
  • Sucking cause children to breathe with their mouths, and this may bring about colds and sore throat.

Thumb Vs Pacifier

Sucking is inevitable that parents resort to just letting their babies suck their thumb or buy pacifiers to replace the finger. The question about sucking is then set aside and the question about which is better, the thumb or pacifier, now arises.


The Pacifier

Pacifiers are usually called dummy nipples which are made of plastic, silicone and rubber. Generally, they are made to have a teat, a handle and a mouth shield. The latter is constructed to prevent the infant from swallowing it or choking on it.

The use of pacifiers has already been questioned because it usually interferes with breastfeeding. Babies generally get used to sucking their pacifiers and would rather opt to suck the thing than to feed on the mother’s breast. On the other hand, the use of pacifiers during the early months may not cause dental problems but for prolonged usage, the teeth may not come out properly or may slant outwards. Another disadvantage caused by pacifier use is linked to ear infections especially when babies are allowed to use them during and beyond bedtime.

But pacifiers are not at all bad for the infant. Experts have revealed how these materials are able to reduce sudden infant death syndrome; are easier to stop than thumb sucking because they are disposable; and can soothe and calm your baby.

The Thumb

It is common knowledge that thumb sucking does not have to be very expensive compared to pacifiers which need to be changed and purchased in times when parents find them no longer efficient. The use of thumb initiates independence because babies can just grab on their fingers when they need to suck.

Moreover, thumb suckers are also considered as the best sleepers because the relief brought about by sucking the thumb is unequalled by pacifiers which can fall to the floor or can be caught in between mattresses. Aside from these cons, the thumb is readily available and does not need to be cleaned and maintained so hard like pacifiers.

One of the disadvantages of thumb sucking is irritation of the skin usually the skin around the thumb gets red and itchy and may develop rashes due to constant wetness. Thumb sucking can also be a cause for social problems since thumb suckers are generally bullied and ridiculed in school.

Parents can always decide between the thumb and pacifiers when it comes to satiating the sucking instinct of their children. It does not really matter which between the two will be used. What matters is the sucking comes in moderation and should be stopped after the child has reached four years old or as soon as he can get over the sucking reflex.

* * * * *

If you find this article useful, do click Like and Share at the bottom of the post, thank you.

Like what you see here? Get parenting tips and stories straight to your inbox! Join our mailing list here.