5 Ways to End Nighttime Thumb Sucking and Finger Biting

Thumb Sucking
Most every child needs some type of comfort item to help them fall and stay asleep.  For some children, it may be a special blanket or stuffed toy, but for others, it’s their fingers and thumbs.

While thumb sucking and finger biting can play a normal role in child development during the early years, when a child sucks her thumb or bites her finger to the point of causing damage to the skin or nail, it can be problematic.

If you’re finding that your child’s thumb sucking or finger biting is resulting in broken or infected skin or disfigured nails, you may wish to take action and try to curb this bedtime behavior.

Here’s 5 ways how:

1. Use a nail polish designed to prevent thumb sucking and nail biting

There are several products on the market that are safe and effective in helping children to stop thumb sucking and nail biting. Mavala Stop-Nail Biting and Thumb Sucking Prevention is one such product. Polish products tend to be effective because they have an unpleasant and bitter taste to them that most children will not like.

2. Offer an age appropriate alternative 

A plastic teething ring or a frozen washcloth may provide relief to a child who is sucking their thumb or biting their fingers due to teething pain. A favorite book or stuffed toy may bring comfort to a child that may feel lonely in her crib or needs a little help being soothed to sleep.

3. Use socks

Purchase some new athletic socks and wash and rinse them well. Place the socks over your child’s hands and use diaper safety pins to attach them to your child’s pajamas sleeves, up by her shoulder. Use two pins for each sock and affix one in the front and one in the back of each shoulder.

4. Use a thumb or finger guard

Consider using a plastic guard to prevent your child from sucking her thumb or biting her finger. ThumbGuard and FingerGuard are two such products that are effective in helping to stop thumb sucking and finger biting.  Plastic guards prevent direct contact with the finger or thumb that is covered so that suction cannot be formed and biting cannot occur.

5. Get interactive

Look for books that address thumb sucking and finger biting, like The Berenstain Bears and the Bad Habit by Stan and Jan Berenstain, and read them to your child. Ask your child open ended questions about the story and look for why your child may be sucking her thumb or biting her fingers in her answers. Having a puppet show (using your hands as the puppets) to talk about why hands don’t belong inside of your mouth can also be helpful in addressing finger biting and thumb sucking with your child.

Most children suck their thumb or bite their fingers without incident.  In fact, it’s usually a habit that a child will stop on his or her own, without assistance. But for those children whose thumb sucking or finger biting results in skin or nail injury, taking some steps to prevent it can be a good idea.