Posted by: coachingparents | December 25, 2007

Toddler Starts Sucking his Thumb

Earlier in the week, Jenny asked a question about a two year old who sucks her thumb. Dr. Caron Goode, founder of ACPi, thought this question was so important that she responded in person and wanted the posting on the blog (as well as a personal response to Jenny).

Hello Jenny,

Dr.Caron Goode responding to your question about your two year old who sucks his thumb. Some children suck their thumbs as infants, and stop when they are toddlers. Other toddlers start sucking their thumbs and continue until they are four or five years old. This is normal and a part of some children’s development. One task of parents of young children is to assist children in learning self-soothing techniques, and thumb sucking may be a self-soothing technique for a child who is over-stimulated or tired. So please have no concerns. I actually get exactly the same question from parents of other young children. So you are not alone.

Also here is some research from a good reference site:

  • According to the American Dental Association, thumb sucking does not cause permanent problems with the teeth or jaw line unless it is continued beyond 4 to 5 years of age. As it turns out, somewhere between 85% and 99% of children have finished thumb sucking spontaneously before this period. 
  • I also recommend you to this book, Parenting Power in the Early Years by Brenda Nixon.  She addresses thumb sucking and other parenting concerns around young children.

I hope this has answered your question. If not, please let me know how else we can be of help.    Dr. Caron Goode



  1. Thanks for recommending my book Caron. Yes, I have a chapter dedicated to thumb-sucking. You also provided good research and answers. Thanks for supporting parents and, ultimately, building stronger families today. ~ Brenda Nixon

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