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Nonnutritive Sucking
Sucking is a normal baby reflex, beginning around the 29th week of gestation.
Nonnutritive Sucking: Sucking not relating to or providing nutrition.
Nonnutritive sucking is a universal phenomenon, with nearly 100% of normal babies engaging in it. Babies may suck their thumb, fingers, hand, a pacifier, or other inanimate object such as a blanket or toy.

Nonnutritive sucking has several benefits.
 
It is an early step in an infant's ability to self-regulate his or her emotions.
 
It helps the child to relax and focus his or her attention.
 
It provides comfort and security. Therefore, sucking occurs more often when the child is tired, bored, anxious, or upset.

Most children discontinue their nonnutritive sucking habit between the ages of 2 and 4 years. One study by Nowak and Warren (2000) found that 50% of children discontinued use by 28 months of age, 71% discontinued use by 36 months of age, and 90% discontinued use by 48 months of age. Therefore, more than 20% of children still engage in nonnutritive sucking at the age of 3.

In general, pacifier users typically discontinue the habit earlier than thumb suckers. However, older children who are thumb suckers are often motivated to quit by peer pressure at school. Prolonged habit is associated with higher maternal education, older maternal age, and not having older siblings.
 
 
Nearly 100% of normal babies engage in nonnutritive sucking.
 
Most children discontinue their sucking habit between the ages of 2 and 4 years.
 
Thumb suckers usually continue the habit longer than pacifier users.
 
First-born children are more likely to have a prolonged sucking habit.
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