Do Thumb Guards Restrict Play?

Why use a thumb guard?

Thumb sucking is a natural and common habit that many children develop as infants or toddlers. It is a way for them to self-soothe and can often provide them with a sense of comfort and security. However, prolonged thumb sucking past five years of age can have negative effects on your child's oral health and development.

As a result, in an effort to help children break the habit, many parents turn to thumb guards. These are devices that are designed to prevent children from sucking their thumbs by covering them with a fabric or plastic shield. The covering works as a barrier preventing the child from gaining suction on their thumb.

Concerns about restricting play

Fabric thumb guards have become a particularly popular choice as they are simple to use, easy to care for and an affordable option. However, while thumb guards are usually very effective at stopping thumb sucking, some parents worry that they may also prevent their children from participating in play.

The good news is that while fabric thumb guards may seem restrictive at first glance, because they are made from fabric they are light weight, flexible and comfortable to wear. As such they allow for full range of motion in the hands and fingers, enabling children to continue to explore the world around them without restriction.


Thumb sucking also restricts play

Another important factor to consider is that thumb sucking itself can interfere with a child's ability to play and engage with others. Children who suck their thumbs excessively may have difficulty using their hands for activities like building blocks, drawing, or playing with toys because they have a thumb in their mouth.


Thumb sucking can restrict communication

They may also have difficulty communicating with others, as thumb sucking can make it difficult to speak clearly or understand others. Therefore by using a fabric thumb guard to break the habit of thumb sucking, while they might need a little time to adjust to wearing the guard, your child may actually engage more fully in play and social activities rather than less.


Children are incredibly adaptable

It is also worth remembering that children are incredibly adaptable and resilient, which means that they can often find ways to work around any challenges or obstacles that come their way. If a child is determined to play with a particular toy or engage in a certain activity, they will often find a way to do so, even if they are wearing a thumb guard.


Guards should be worn as required

Consider also that fabric thumb guards are not meant to be worn 24/7. Most thumb guards are intended to be worn during certain times of the day when the child is more likely to engage in their habit of thumb-sucking. Common times include naptime, while watching television or at bedtime.

Additionally, some parents choose to use thumb guards only in certain situations, such as during long car rides or other times when thumb sucking may be particularly tempting. This means that at times when your child is less inclined to insert their thumb into their mouth, they can still enjoy their daytime activities without the thumb guard getting in the way.

In fact, using a fabric thumb guard may actually encourage children to explore new activities and hobbies. When children are no longer relying on thumb sucking for comfort, they may be more open to trying new things and engaging in new activities. For example, they may be more willing to try playing a musical instrument, joining a sports team, or taking up a new hobby.


Not the only tool in the tool box 

Finally, it's important to remember that fabric thumb guards are just one tool in the toolbox when it comes to breaking the habit of thumb sucking. While they are effective in many cases, they may not work for every child. Additionally, some children may need additional support or intervention to break the habit of thumb sucking. This may include working with a paediatrician, dentist, or other healthcare provider to develop a plan to address the behaviour.

In conclusion

Fabric thumb guards are a safe and effective tool for preventing thumb sucking in children. While some parents may worry that these devices will interfere with their child's ability to play and engage in other activities, the opposite is true. Fabric thumb guards are lightweight, flexible, and do not interfere with a child's ability to use their hands or engage in play. By breaking the habit of thumb sucking, children may be more inclined to explore new activities and hobbies, leading to a more fulfilling and enjoyable childhood.


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