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Kids Health QA: Infant's Finger-Sucking Habit

Q. My 4-month-old sucks her fingers constantly. I don't want her to move on to her thumb. How can I prevent it?

Actually, there's no need to. Four months is about the age when babies discover their hands -- and find that they're wonderfully useful! They most love using them to get anything they can into their mouths, including their fingers. Sucking can be a sign of hunger, but if your daughter is eating and growing well, I don't think she's hungry constantly. Most likely, she's doing it to soothe herself, which is a very normal behavior; up to a third of infants suck a pacifier or their fingers. Unless you're ready to substitute something equally relaxing as often as your daughter sucks her fingers, stopping her could be hard and pretty upsetting for everyone. What's more, finger sucking now doesn't mean she'll be a thumb sucker later. But even if she does fall in love with her thumb, that behavior isn't worrisome either -- unless she's still at it when her permanent teeth come in around age 6. And there are lots of things you'll be able to do to break her of the habit long before then!