Thumb Guards – The ultimate beginner's guide

Posted by Jayne Schembri on

The purpose

Our thumb guards help deter children from sucking their thumb or fingers in two ways. First, the guards are a visual reminder to children not to suck. Secondly, they form a barrier between the thumb or fingers and the mouth roof. This reduces the comforting sensation typically gained from sucking. 

Because the risk of the habit harming the teeth and jaw increases when the adult teeth start to cut through, we created our thumb guards with four-year-olds in mind.  At this age, children are unlikely to have their adult teeth cutting; plus, they are old enough to understand when you explain why they should not suck their thumbs. Despite this, we know that needs vary; therefore, we make our thumb guards and finger guards available for children and adults of all ages and abilities.

Measuring up

You will need to carefully measure your child's hand before purchasing a thumb or finger guard. If you need a thumb guard, measure from the end of the thumb to the lowest crease on the wrist.

If you are purchasing a finger guard or a combined thumb and finger guard, you will need to measure the most extended finger that will wear the guard. Again, measure from the very end of the finger to the lowest crease on the wrist.

Finally, you will also need to provide the wrist measurement. Please measure around the wrist fully. This distance is essential for the correct placement of the fastenings.

Baby Guards

For many babies, the habit of thumb or finger sucking begins while they are still in the womb. Others discover their fists and fingers soon after birth.  The critical thing to remember is that a baby's desire to suck is a perfectly normal reflex. Sucking comforts your baby, and this natural rooting and sucking reflex helps your baby feel secure.

The significant risks to teeth alignment and mouth structure do not usually develop until after the permanent teeth cut through. Problems then vary depending upon the intensity and frequency in which your child sucks.

When it comes to babies and toddlers, who generally have few teeth, the risks orally are therefore minimal. However, saliva's damage to the delicate skin on infant hands resulted in hundreds of requests for baby-sized thumb guards. In response, we began making tiny guards to meet the demand.

Before ordering a baby guard, you will need to measure your baby's thumb and wrist in the same way you would if you were buying a guard for an older child. Most babies and toddlers with skin issues require the 2.75-inch product. This size is available to order directly from our stores.

If your baby is very young or has a measurement in the region of 2.5 inches, please contact us before ordering so that we can discuss the requirements of your little one first.

 

Thumb Guards are not restraints

It is essential to remember that our thumb guards are not restraints. For hygiene and safety reasons, we do not make thumb guards that are impossible for a child to remove when needed. All our listings clearly state that children can remove thumb guards. Plus, we advise parents and caregivers to select the fastening most suited to their child's ability.  

Nonetheless, we are aware that occasionally we have received low reviews because children removed their guards. Please be aware that this action is not a fault with the product; it proves the guards are working correctly.

We do offer buckle clips to improve the fastening of the guards and recommend using a button fastening for very young children and babies. While we sew buttons on firmly, they can be removed and re-attached by the parents or caregivers, should the guard seem too loose or too tight. Adjusting the wrist fastening can reduce the likelihood of a baby removing the guard but will still not make it impossible.

 

Thumb Guard linings

We have used a variety of linings for our thumb guards over the years. Linings are essential for the guards but are often more expensive than the outer cotton fabrics. To reduce expenses for our buyers, we usually research several suppliers to obtain the best quality, most cost-effective materials.

Because we partially make our guards before listing them and because lining fabrics vary, if you order two or more guards with different outer prints, you may find the inner linings are not the same. However, our newest guards are the exception because, from April 2021, we have been using a lightweight, fast-drying, moisture-resistant lining with a soft feel. This is the same fabric as recommended for face masks, and it is used for sportswear and sleeping bags.

 

Fastenings

These guards have a choice of velcro, button, or stud (snap) fastening, enabling them to be worn/removed easily by your child. These guards are intended as an aid for your child to use independently. Please select the fastening most suited to your child's ability.

As children can be challenging to measure, even when you believe the correct measurements were supplied, occasionally, the fit of the wrist fastening may be too loose or too tight when the guard arrives.  

This is not a problem with velcro fastenings because they are adjustable. Buttons are also not a problem because they can be removed and relocated to a more suitable position for your child.

However, an accurate wrist circumference measurement is needed when ordering a snap fastening which cannot be adjusted. If a wrist circumference measurement is not provided, we will use an average measurement for the size guard purchased. Unfortunately, this may mean the fit is not ideal for your child.

 

How many guards are needed?

Because our thumb guards and finger guards can be washed and dried quickly, it is possible to break the thumb sucking habit with just one guard. However, we recommend at least two guards because children will often switch thumbs if their usual thumb of choice is covered.

The majority of our buyers order three guards, one for each hand and a spare if one is lost.

 

Should guards be worn continuously?

Whenever there is a temptation to suck the thumb, encourage your child to wear the thumb guards. Reducing all opportunities to suck the thumb will speed up the process of ending the habit.

However, we do not recommend wearing thumb guards or finger guards in the sea or swimming pool as seawater and pool chemicals might damage the guards.

We strongly advise teaching children to remove the guards before using the toilet, washing, and eating meals for hygiene reasons.  

 

Persuading children to wear thumb guards

The easiest way to persuade your child to wear a thumb guard is to involve them with the decision from the start. Allowing children to choose their guard design and perhaps even the fastening will help them positively view the guard.

We offer over 100 fabric designs to increase the likelihood of your child finding a fabric print that appeals to their tastes and interests.

Do not present the thumb guards as a punishment or ultimatum for thumb sucking. Doing so may work against you. Many children suck their thumbs for comfort. Therefore, a child who feels guilty, admonished, or sad is more likely to turn to thumb-sucking.

Success is more likely when your child sees their thumb guard as an aid to help them with their own choice to give up thumb sucking independently.


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