As dental pros know, thumb sucking is one of the toughest habits for kids to break. Many thumb suckers start sucking in the womb, and continue this self-soothing habit through infancy and toddlerhood.
While thumb sucking is undeniably adorable the first couple of years, as kindergarten looms and those front teeth start bucking out, parents can easily start to panic.
Advice for Parents of Thumb Suckers
Most dental pros recommend not intervening to stop a thumb sucking habit until age 4 or 5. Most kids will quit their thumbs on their own by that time.
For persistent thumb suckers, many parents try rewards, bitter-tasting thumb applications like Mavala Stop, a sock on the hand, or praising the child when they notice the thumb out of the mouth.
Sometimes these thumb sucking solutions work, and sometimes the child still needs a little extra time or help.
Books about thumb sucking are a great way to “plant the seed” about quitting a thumb sucking habit, without pressuring the child to give it up.
Parent pressure can stress out the child or make the child feel ashamed, which ironically, will make the thumb sucking even worse, as the child will turn to his or her thumb for comfort.
5 Best Thumb Sucking Books
David Decides About Thumbsucking: A Story for Children, a Guide for Parents
This is a favorite book recommendation of pediatric dentists. In a study done by Contemporary Pediatrics, 50 thumb suckers were given this book.
The parents were told to read the Parent Guide at the back of the book, then read the story portion out loud to their children. In doing this, 48 of the 50 children were able to quit their thumb habit.
Five-year-old David loves sucking his thumb. It feels good, and it passes the time when he’s bored. But he has to admit: he does look a little bit silly with his thumb in his mouth!
He talks to his older brother and sister about how they quit. By the end of the book, David decides … and he’ll ask the thumb sucker reading the book if they’re ready to decide, too!
Thumbs Up Brown Bear
Brown Bear likes to suck his thumb. Sometimes it even tastes like applesauce! But Brown Bear is getting too big to suck his thumb. It’s a hard habit to break, so Brown Bear will need to find some fun tricks to help him quit.
Both parents and kids will give this book “two thumbs up” for its fun verbal encouragement and adorable illustrations.
The Berenstain Bears and the Bad Habit
Down a winding dirt road deep in Bear Country, Sister Bear is struggling with a bad habit: she keeps nibbling her nails. Other cubs in her class have bad habits too, like thumb sucking.
This classic story from beloved authors Stan and Jan Berenstain will teach “young cubs” about what a habit is, and how to replace a bad habit with a good one by working hard.
Funny Teeth and Bunny Ears
Written by a dentist, this short and sweet book is one of the top-rated thumb sucking books on Amazon.
It follows thumb-sucking bunnies Charlie and Marlie on an adventure and includes an interactive sticker chart to inspire fellow thumb suckers to quit their habit.
My Thumb and I
Recommended for thumb suckers ages 6-10, this book is a cooperative effort between parent and child, and features a 10-step quit method that’s easy to apply.
Great for self-esteem building, the book includes activities designed to modify the thumb sucking behavior by promising fun and offering rewards.
Share your reading recommendations!
What’s your favorite thumb sucking book to help kids quit?