Baby Sucking on Hand: What it Means

Babies are born with a natural sucking reflex to allow them to feed once they are born. Newborns are able to suck milk and feed. Whether you are breastfeeding or bottle-feeding your baby, the sucking reflex is necessary to allow your baby to feed. However, this sucking reflex may be diverted to other things or body parts. Sometimes, you may notice your baby sucking on hand. Let’ find out in this article.

Why is your baby sucking on hand?

There are many reasons why your baby is sucking his or her hand. Moreover, it might be caused by more than just the sucking reflex. Your baby might be trying to communicate something with you. When babies are still unable to talk, their mode of communication is primarily body language. That is why when your baby sucks his or her hand, he or she might be trying to tell you something. The most common reasons why your baby may suck his or her hand are as follows:

Teething

Babies sometimes feel discomfort as the tooth erupts or gum itch when teething. That is why it may cause the sucking of hands. Moreover, if your baby is not provided with a pacifier or teether, the hands are very accessible for your baby to ease teething discomfort. That is why your baby may suck the hands when teething begins and sometimes until the teething stage ends.

Hunger

When your baby is hungry, yet still unable to tell you this, your baby may begin to suck his or her hands as a sign of hunger, just like when your baby is sucking on the bottom lip. When your baby is hungry, he or she may have various body language or gestures to let you know. However, you have to be aware of whether or not you might be overfeeding your baby in the process. Sucking the bottom lip or hands can also be rooted in other things that aren’t related to hunger.

Boredom

When your baby is bored, they can be really creative in entertaining themselves. Aside from watching their hanging toys or moving their limbs when they are bored, babies may also suck their lips or hands to provide themselves with some stimuli to remain occupied. Moreover, your baby may be bored if he or she does not have teether, toys or pacifiers that may further cause the sucking of hands. You may also allow your baby to watch some children shows or listen to music to keep them entertained. Boredom can be the cause of various behaviors which may also include chewing on the crib or sticking the tongue out.

Does this mean you don’t produce enough breast milk?

If you see that your baby is often sucking his or her hand, your baby might be frequently getting hungry if you are not producing enough milk when breastfeeding. If this is the case, you may want to try to increase your breast milk supply to provide the needs of your baby. On the other hand, you may also supplement this lack of milk supply by bottle-feeding your baby when your milk supply is not enough.

You’ll know when your baby is often hungry if he or she becomes really fussy, sucks on the bottom lip or sucks his or her hands to show that he or she is already hungry. If you are breastfeeding, you also need to eat a healthy diet to increase your milk supply as these nutrients also go to your breast milk. Sometimes, poor milk flow is only caused by poor feeding posture, so you may try different feeding positions when breastfeeding to find out which works best for your baby.

How to prevent this behavior?

If the behavior is due to teething, providing some teething toys or pacifiers may be enough to prevent the sucking of hands. Teething may also cause discomfort so you may also provide your baby with cold snacks to ease teething discomfort. Teething toys that can be chilled may also help prevent your baby from sucking on his or her hands.

If your baby is sucking his or her hands due to boredom, providing some toys to keep your baby entertained may do the trick to make your baby forget about sucking his or her hands. On the other hand, if your baby is sucking hands due to hunger, you may want to try to increase your breast milk supply or feed your baby more frequently with the formula that he or she is on.

Risks related to hand sucking

There are certain health risks attributed to the hand-sucking behavior of babies. Moreover, if they explore outside and touch various things, viruses and bacteria may be in contact with your baby’s hands. Then, when your baby sucks on his or her hand, these pathogens may then be transferred to your baby’s mouth where it can be ingested and cause health problems.

Hand sucking is often normal in babies. However, certain health problems can be prevented if this behavior is discouraged. Moreover, if your baby gets in contact with dirty things as he or she explored, it may cause illness or upset stomach. Therefore, it is better to provide some teething toys, snacks or pacifiers to minimize or eliminate the sucking of hands. Here are other risks related to your baby’s sucking of hands:

  • Sucking of hands may affect teeth positioning as teeth erupt
  • May cause upset stomach and other illnesses
  • The baby may get injured hands once teeth have already erupted

If your baby is sucking on hand, he or she may be hungry, bored or teething. It is up to you as a parent to determine the cause, so you may address it accordingly. Moreover, there are certain risks attributed to this sucking of hands, so you might want to discourage this behavior in your baby as much as possible.

Nick
 

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