We’ve all heard of babies and small children sucking on their thumb, but what should you do if you notice your baby sucking on their whole hand, fist or other fingers? And is it anything to be concerned about? 

The good news is that this is usually not a cause for concern. It could mean that they’re trying to communicate something with you though, so it’s important to know what they might be trying to tell you. 

There are many reasons your baby might be sucking on their hand, here are just a few below. 

Teething 

Perhaps one of the most obvious reasons your baby might be sucking on their hands and fingers as well as toys and teethers is teething. Most babies begin teething between 4 and 7 months old. Hurting gums can often be soothed by chewing or rubbing something against them, which is why they might be sucking on their hand more often. 

If the sucking is accompanied by a lot of drooling, flushed cheeks and your baby has been acting more irritable, you can probably assume teething is to blame. 

Hunger

If your newborn is sucking on their hand, they may be trying to tell you they’re hungry and want to be sucking on your nipple or bottle to feed. 

Self-soothing

If you’ve already fed your baby and you know they’re unlikely to be hungry yet, they may be sucking to soothe themselves. Sucking produces a calming sensation that relaxes babies and young children and is the reason so many little ones rely on a dummy or thumb sucking to get to sleep. 

Exploration 

As your baby discovers their body and different sensations and abilities, they might want to get to know their hands a bit better. After all, they’ll be very important tools in a few months time when it comes to playing and weaning. 

How to deal with hand sucking 

There’s usually nothing to worry about when it comes to hand sucking, as long as your baby’s hands are clean, and they aren’t in any pain or discomfort. If you do want to discourage them from sucking on their hand, however, there are some useful tools to help them. 

If teething seems to be the cause, it might be a good idea to get your tot a teething toy. If you think your tot is soothing themselves with sucking, it might be good to get them a dummy. 

If your baby’s hands are looking for things to explore, they might benefit from sensory toys such as rattles and crinkle books. 

When to worry 

Like most things, your baby will most likely grow out of this phase of sucking their hand, and as their language develops and they find other things to occupy their minds, they won’t feel the need to suck on their hand any more. 

Generally, there’s no need to worry about your child before the age of four. If you are concerned, however, you might want to talk to your child’s GP. 

One of the most common reasons parents worry about hand and finger sucking is due to potential oral health issues further down the line, so it could be worth checking in with your dentist too.

If your newborn seems to be sucking on their hand a lot, it may be a sign they’re more hungry than they should be, in which case you should speak to your GP to make sure your baby is getting enough milk. 


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