Did you know that around 75 percent of infants will suck their fingers in the first year of their life? However, when parents notice thumb-sucking behavior in their children, they might think they have to rush to fix this habit. While there is a time to intervene and moments when thumb-sucking can be symptomatic of something more, this behavior is mostly normal. As such, you should know some important things about thumb-sucking so you can know when to act.

It’s Normal

Interestingly, the habit of thumb-sucking stems from the need for children to obtain nutrients through breastfeeding. In fact, some ultrasound photos have shown babies already sucking on their thumbs. Thumb-sucking is an incredibly normal behavior that babies engage in to self-soothe and feel secure. Moreover, most children grow out of this habit by the time they reach the age of 2 to 4 years.

When To Intervene

While we know that thumb-sucking is quite common, there does come a time when it can become a concern. One of the useful things you should know about thumb-sucking is that you may need to intervene when it’s no longer normal. But when does that threshold occur?

Treatment for thumb-sucking behavior may need implementation if your child continues engaging in this habit past the age of 5 years. It can become a concern around this age because it’s the time when permanent teeth begin coming in. Thumb-sucking could potentially lead to improper alignment of teeth and dental problems.

Can Be Symptomatic

Unfortunately, thumb-sucking can also be symptomatic of an emotional or mental disturbance. In fact, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can cause thumb-sucking in children. When a child has PTSD, they can exhibit a range of symptoms wherein they regress to behaviors more common in younger children. While thumb-sucking could be symptomatic of a bigger issue, it is always best to speak with a pediatric health care professional before coming to any personal conclusions.