The American Dental Association explains that thumb sucking is natural for infants. This reflex is commonly picked up by babies as a way to establish comfort. It’s been said to help reduce anxiety when babies are separated from their caretakers and even induce sleep. Pacifiers are known to accomplish a similar outcome. While it’s amazing that babies can pick up this natural way to soothe themselves, there’s a certain point when it’s no longer acceptable.
In many cases, children break this habit on their own. This is often due to recognizing social cues, However, if the problem persists beyond the age of 4, you may want to pursue a more active method of discouraging the habit.
The reason the ADA recommends breaking the habit by age 4 is because of the developmental outcomes. Vigorously sucking one’s thumb can negatively affect a child’s teeth and jaw.