● Healthy babies eat handsAlmost all children will eat hands as early as 2 months old. At this stage, eating hands may not be related to comfort, but a very important skill for children. From perception to "I have hands", to being able to raise hands to observe, When it is put into the mouth accurately, the hand-mouth-eye coordination ability is exercised. At this stage, when eating hands are almost awake, no intervention is required, and it is a necessary stage for children's ability development.
From the age of 3-4 months, when the mobility of the hands is better and the range is larger, some children will not be limited to eating the hands themselves, and start to grab things with their hands to eat, and they will naturally overcome the eating of the hands. Stage (of course, when there is nothing to eat, it will eat hands).
However, some children find that hand sucking relieves boredom, calms, and brings a sense of security, and it gradually develops into a self-soothing behavior, especially during sleep. I don't regret letting my child eat his hands and sleep in the first place. I always think that this is a very, very important thing for him. It is more important to make him feel safe than the risk of eating his own hands.
As children grow up, there will be more and more ways to gain a sense of security. Most children can gradually stop relying on eating hands before the age of 2 and naturally quit. Even though my child didn't get better as expected by the age of 2, that doesn't mean I should have taken steps to get him to quit eating hands sooner.
● When do you have to quit eating hands?When parents eat their children's hands, the biggest worry is usually teeth. Indeed, prolonged or continuous finger sucking does affect the occlusion of the teeth, the development of the maxillofacial region, etc.
The American Academy of Pediatrics currently believes that:
Don't worry unless you're still sucking your fingers at age 4-5; the American Dental Association recommends abstaining from non-nutritive sucking (including finger sucking and pacifiers) by age 4.
After the age of 2, if the child's hand-eating is gradually improving, there is no need to rush to intervene, because most of the dental problems caused by this time occur in the front teeth. Usually, as long as the hand-eating is stopped, the teeth will automatically improve.
However, if there is still no tendency to stop by the age of 4, intervention is recommended. One is to help the child master other methods to relieve anxiety, and the other is to ensure that the child completely stops the behavior before permanent teeth are formed to avoid malocclusion.
Taking into account the current national conditions (most mothers can't bear their children's finger-eating after going to kindergarten), the risk to teeth, and the difficulty of withdrawal, for children who are very dependent on eating their hands and sleep, they can be 2-3 years old. Intervention withdrawal.
Premature forcible intervention is not only very difficult and cannot achieve good results, but also causes children to be more anxious. Some children even use other sucking behaviors such as biting their lower lip to replace the gain.
● How to quitA pacifier or silicone teether is the best alternative to sucking on nipples and fingers.
Easy to sterilize and clean, relatively more hygienic; the baffle of the pacifier can prevent excessive sucking, and long-term use is less harmful to the teeth than sucking fingers; it is easier to quit than eating hands, after all, the pacifier can be removed and thrown away, while fingers cannot... .
Generally, the best time to introduce pacifiers is before 6 months of age. Children after 1 year old usually already have other pacification methods, and the possibility of re-accepting pacifiers is very low.
But the introduction of other pacifiers for older children can't be said to be completely useless, but it can't be immediate.
If you want to introduce pacifiers, you need to move forward gradually: first get familiar with other pacifiers, then accept the use of new pacifiers while eating your hands, and finally use pacifiers as a substitute to get rid of eating your hands. The process was generally long and I didn't stick with it.
The essence of aversion therapy is to remind, not punish. That is, when the child subjectively already has the desire to overcome eating hands, but can't do it, applying the bitter agent on the fingers acts as a reminder.
My child was only one and a half years old at the time, and he had absolutely no will to quit eating his hands. This method was inappropriate. Wearing gloves to stop eating hands also works through reminders. For a 1.5-year-old child, failure is inevitable.
The most important thing in quitting eating hands is to win the cooperation of children. You can use picture books and stories to let children understand why they need to quit eating hands without intimidation.
This is also the reason why it is relatively easy to withdraw after the age of 2, and children can communicate and understand, while it is difficult for children under 2 to obtain such an "inner drive". It is easier to implement and more successful than a one-size-fits-all approach.
Stress will make children want to eat hands more. Praise and encouragement should be used when gradually quitting. If the frequency of eating hands is reduced and the time is shortened, praise can be given. Don't use criticism and punishment, which can increase stress.