Babies suck their thumbs, right? It’s like a quintessential part of being a baby. But what if your baby is sucking on their whole hand, fist, or their other finger.
The short answer: Yes. The long answer? Well, that’s yes, too, plus some additional explanation. Everything a baby does is basically a way of communicating. So, if your baby’s spending a lot of time sucking on their hand, they’re probably trying to tell you something.
Here’s how to figure out what it means when your baby sucks his finger.
In the newborn months, a baby who sucks their hand may be trying to tell you they are hungry. Think about it: Every time they suck on a bottle or nipple, they get food.
Most of a newborn baby’s hunger cues, in fact, involve cues. Your baby may also open and close their mouth or smack their lips to let you know they are ready to eat.
OK, but what if you just fed your baby and you know they are pretty full?
In this case, sucking on their hand may be a sign of self soothing. Young babies often fall asleep on the breast or bottle.
If you notice your baby sucks on their hand during times of stress (such as when meeting new people or feeling under the weather), it’s probably a self-soothing strategy.
Babies grow teeth between 4 and 7 months old, so while you can probably rule this out for a newborn, it could definitely be causing your older baby to suck on their hands, fists, or fingers. Their gums hurt and rubbing something against those sore spots feels good!
If your baby has been drooling a ton, acting more irritable than usual, or having more frequent wakings, it’s probably safe to assume teething is to blame .
Sure, it may sound weird that hands could be a source of entertainment, but to a young baby, hands are freaking fascinating. And you know what’s even more fascinating? Realizing you can control them!
Babies this age are just starting to figure out they have these super useful tools attached to their bodies that they can wave around, pick things up with, and stick in their mouth.
They are also figuring out their senses and learning that different things have different tastes, textures, and temperatures. This is all ridiculously interesting for new humans.
Newborns typically have a busy schedule full of eating, pooping, crying, and sleeping. But once your baby starts spending a little more time awake every day, they might experience a totally new sensation: Boredom.
It’s healthy for your baby to spend some supervised time outside of your arms, like in a bouncy seat or play pen. Eventually, though, they’ll get tired of hanging out away from you.
A baby who sucks on their hand may be sending a self-soothing cue that they need a change of scenery.
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