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What You Should Know About Thumb-Sucking

Babies have the innate need to suck. It’s a reflex they are born with. Non-nutritive sucking (NNS) refers to a sucking behavior that does not provide any nutritional benefit. So nursing and bottle-feeding are nutritive, while thumb-sucking, finger-sucking, and pacifiers are non-nutritive. Surprisingly, NNS can actually be beneficial for babies.

NNS is the first step in helping babies learn to self-regulate emotions and feelings and to self-soothe. Babies actually begin finger-sucking as early as 20 to 29 weeks gestation. You can look for thumb sucking prevention devices online at

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Many soon-to-be moms are surprised to see ultrasound images of their baby with a finger or even a toe near the mouth. The newest ultrasound technology can even identify the sucking motion in the baby’s mouth while thumb-sucking.

Another benefit of NNS is to help children to be more focused and attentive, providing comfort and security as well. Sucking tend to occur most often when a child feels bored or angry and when tired. Nearly 100 percent of children will suck their thumbs.

What parents can not see is the tongue resting posture changes sucking thumb push. Normal resting position of the tongue around the age of 4 and is located in the upper dental arch but away from the teeth.

In the vast majority (over 99 percent) of children who smoked after the age of 5, the tongue assumes a forward lower rest position, and thrust the tongue forward during swallowing and speaking in some cases.