Some babies’ sucking needs cannot be met by just breastfeeding or bottle feeding.
They require more comfort and quickly discover that sucking their thumbs will give them just that!
The thing about the thumb is that it is always there, readily available for self-soothing. It doesn’t fall down on the floor, and it can be easily found at night – as opposed to the pacifier.
Ok then, but why does my baby try to suck on her thumb during breastfeeding? Isn’t breastfeeding supposed to give them the security they need while getting their tummy full?
Let’s find out what’s hiding behind this peculiar habit.
Why Does My Baby Try To Suck Her Thumb While Nursing?
There are a few reasons babies like to suck their thumb during breastfeeding. The first one is they may require extra comforting, and non-nutritive sucking will satisfy this need. Secondly, sucking on the thumb can manifest the end of the meal or just taking a break from feeding. Teething is another potential reason for thumb-sucking, specifically to help relieve gum pain. And finally – it can be simply a new trick baby learned to do with her newly discovered hands.
1. Pronounced Sucking Needs
We already know that babies have a strong urge to suck. They acquire this reflex in the womb and continue to perfect it after birth.
So, for babies, sucking is not only a way of getting their tummy full – but it also serves non-nutritive purposes. These include:
- Thumb sucking to help the baby settle down for a nap.
- Thumb sucking because of being tired, so she is trying to find a way to relax and fall asleep.
- For colicky and reflux babies, sucking is one of the best ways of relieving their discomfort.
So, none of the above reasons has anything to do with feeding. They are all related to the baby being soothed and comforted.
Furthermore, spontaneous thumb sucking is a totally normal behaviour of young babies!
And any time is a good moment for a little thumb chew… even during nursing!
2. They Are Done Eating
If your little munchkin chooses to suck on her thumb over your breast, it means she may need a little break from food.
Alternatively, it can also be a sign that she is done eating.
Having eaten enough, she just needs to comfort herself, likely for a well-earned nap.
So, trust your baby to take all the milk she needs. When she is full, she will stop feeding and may choose to suck on her thumb instead.
Also, bear in mind that the older babies get, the more effective feeders they become. As a result, her feedings might last only a few minutes, instead of a half-hour or more as it was in the early days.
3. They Are Teething
Thumb-sucking during breastfeeding may also be an attempt for your baby to soothe the teething discomfort. Specifically – relieving the pain of her tender gums.
Teething can occur in babies at literally any time during the first year, so teething is likely to be the reason.
Especially if your baby is dribbling, her gums are swollen and red, she’s chewing on anything she can grab, and she doesn’t seem to be sleeping well. Because all of those symptoms are associated with teething.
The bottom line is that teething is not a fun stage for babies, and they need all the support they can get.
So, give your little munchkin extra cuddles, and get her something cold to chew on to distract her from all the teething discomforts.
4. Exploration purposes
Babies are little explorers of the world around them.
And for them, there is no better way than to use their hands and put things into their mouth.
And that is, again, an expected sign of their healthy development.
As they grow, they become more aware of themselves, their bodies, and what they can do. Also, they are getting better at hand-eye coordination, so the chances are they will show particular interest in their hands and fingers.
As a result of this discovery, the little thumb will frequently end up in your baby’s mouth.
It can be hard to resist this new habit… even while feeding!
Don’t worry, this phase won’t last long. And a new, equally entertaining habit will soon replace it.
Baby Mouthing: The Reasons Why Your Baby is Mouthing (including thumb sucking and mouthing toys)
Final Few Lines
There is no doubt about it. Babies like to suck for pleasure and comfort, even during their meals.
And there are a few possible reasons for it:
- They may have particularly high soothing needs.
- They need a little break from feeding or are done eating.
- They need to relieve discomfort related to teething.
- They are exploring their newly discovered body parts and the tricks they can pull.
Related post ===>How To Keep The Pacifier In My Baby’s Mouth