Why Do Babies Suck Their Hands?

Why Do Babies Suck Their Hands?

25 Jul 2022 | 5 min Read

Reema Shah

Author | 490 Articles

Babies sucking their thumbs is a quintessential part of being a baby. If you have noticed that your baby is sucking on their whole hand, on other fingers or the fist, you need not worry. This is normal and it might just be a way for your baby to communicate with you. If you have been seeing your baby spending a lot of time sucking on their hand, chances are they’re trying to tell you something.

But why do babies suck their hands? Here’s all that you need to know.

5 Reasons Why Babies Suck Their Hand 

There are many reasons that make a baby suck their hands. You might have to observe your baby carefully to identify the cause of his or her hand-sucking. It’s advisable to keep wiping your baby’s hands with natural baby wipes to keep them clean and germ-free. 

Here are some of the most common reasons why your baby may be sucking their hand:

1. Hunger

Hunger may be one of the reasons why babies may suck their hands. In fact, hand sucking could indicate feeding time. Since your baby is used to sucking a nipple to get breastmilk or formula milk, they may think that sucking may give them food. This is very normal. 

2. Teething

Most babies begin teething when they are between four and seven months old. Teething could be a reason for your baby to suck on their fists, hands, or fingers. During teething, their gums hurt and when rubbing something against those sore spots such as a thumb or finger can feel good

If your baby has been drooling more often and is acting fussy along with more wakings, it can all be because of teething. While this phase isn’t the best, you can try some tips that can help your baby get through it. 

chew on hands
Babies can chew on hands and hand sucking in babies is common when they are teething as it helps relax their sore gums / Credit – Pexels

3. Boredom

Newborns usually have a schedule which is filled with eating, pooping, sleeping and crying. But once your baby starts sleeping a little less, they might tend to experience boredom which can be a totally new sensation for them.

It’s perfectly fine for your baby to spend some supervised time away from your arms in a safe space. However, they will eventually get tired of being away from you and may start to suck on their hand indicating that they need a change of scenery.

4. Self-soothing

In some cases, babies may be sucking on their hands for self-soothing. Many times, young babies tend to fall asleep on the breast or bottle. Hence, they can associate the sucking reflex with the initial stages of sleep and end up sucking on their hand to help them feel relaxed.

It is also common in older babies between 7 to 8 months old to suck on their hands or fingers because it helps to produce a calming sensation that relaxes them.

If you notice that your baby sucks on their hand when stressed such as during sickness or while meeting new people, it is most likely a self-soothing strategy.

chew on hands and hand sucking in babies
Hand sucking in babies can be out of boredom or just to self-soothe when they are stressed or nervous / Credit – Pexels

5. Exploration

Hands could be a mode of entertainment for two or three-month-old babies. They could find their hands fascinating and once your little one realises they can control them, they may just suck the hands. 

Babies who are about three months old are just beginning to discover their bodies. They will discover that they can pick things, hold things, stick them in their mouth and even wave around. Plus, babies are also figuring out their senses and discovering new textures, tastes and temperatures. All of these aspects are very interesting for these little ones.

How to Deal With Babies Sucking Their Hand

  • Your baby hand-sucking to self-soothe or out of boredom isn’t a situation to worry about, but you don’t want your baby to get used to it. Think of the root cause through observation. Some may be finding it difficult to fall asleep on their own or might have gotten overstimulated. 
  • A baby who has just discovered their hands will soon start finding other objects lying around them. Hence, make sure you’ve baby-proofed the space for safety. They can reach out to things so it’s your opportunity to introduce them to sensory toys like cloth books and rattles
  • If you have identified that your baby is sucking their hand because of teething pain, you can offer them a cold washcloth, teething toy or frozen popsicles. As for any medication, consult with your doctor first. 

Now that you have your answer on why do babies suck their hands, find out your own baby’s reason for doing so. You need not worry about it as it’s a part of their growth. If your baby is having disturbed sleep, consult with a doctor to confirm the cause and take the necessary steps.

Cover Image credit – MedyLife

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