How to Bond with Your Newborn
This natural reflex provides your baby with great comfort and satisfaction. Her sucking will become better and voluntary a few weeks after she is born. Allow her to use her thumb, fist, or pacifier to meet the natural need for sucking. You can even help her put her fist or thumb in her mouth. Remember that repetition makes strong neural pathways that make Baby’s brain grow.
Baby Heather was born with blisters on her thumbs from sucking them while in the womb. As soon as she was born, her thumb went straight back into her mouth as if birth had only temporarily disrupted her. Her mom did not have to help baby Heather find her thumb for the next five years!
Babies are born naturally knowing how to get nutrition through the sucking reflex. At first this is an involuntary action, but soon your baby will make the connection that sucking is pleasurable and provides feelings of security. Experts disagree on thumbsucking as the baby gets older. Some experts point out that thumbsucking in toddlers and preschoolers can interfere with the alignment of teeth and influence the shape of the child’s palate and facial development. Other experts feel that an older child will be too busy playing and running to remember to suck her thumb, and therefore the habit of thumbsucking will die out on its own. Work with your pediatrician on this issue as your child grows into toddlerhood and preschool. But in the first year, thumbsucking, pacifiers, and fist-sucking are calming and positive experiences for the brain.
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