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Finger-Sucking to Ensure One is Alive - 1

The hands of a baby play an important role to see if he/she is alive. A three- to six-week-old baby starts to suck, or look at, his or her hands.

As If the Baby is Thinking Something

A baby keeps his/her fists clenched for the first one month or so after birth. Then he/she opens his/her hands and moves the limbs greatly. When the baby is swinging his/her hands and one of the hands happens to touch his/her face and mouth, he/she begins to suck his/her clenched fist, or if the hand is open in case of the slightly older baby, his/her thumb or other fingers. The baby continues to suck his/her fingers until the hand slips down from his/her mouth.

Indeed the behavior looks as if he/she is enjoying himself/herself or thinking about something.

The baby sucks his/her finger to feel something by his/her mouth. The baby at this age does not seem to be able to feel special senses of comfort by other parts of the body, although adults may have many to be able to do so.

The baby comes to know about his/her fingers while sucking them and learns about inside of the mouth. The baby is making sure that he/she is alive and feeling the joy to be alive, using the sensitive and soft lip with the different sense from that of sucking the mother's nipples.

This stage is very important for human growth to feel something using a mouth. Their implications are quite understandable since the mouth is an important organ of the human body to learn something through the senses of taste and touch and the fingertips are important to learn about sense of touch and further detail movements.

The Baby Born with a Callus

However the baby's finger-sucking is not a postnatal behavior. This can be seen before his/her birth while the baby is still a fetus. At a hospital in Stockholm, Sweden, Mr. Lennart Nilsson took a picture of a fetus using special equipment and took a brilliant record of human life.

The first movements of a fetus can be seen in twelve weeks after conception; the fetus moves his/her hands reflexively and brings them toward the mouth as if it were sucking his/her fingers. The four-and-a-half-month-old fetus, in a very rare case, sucks his/her finger in the mother's womb.

There is even a report on a baby born with a callus of his thumb due to too much finger-sucking. Therefore the finger-sucking of a baby is a behavior which is physiological and innate.

Pediatric-neurologists and rehabilitation experts highly appreciate the meaning of finger-sucking. They sometimes teach children suffering from cerebral palsy how to suck their thumbs. The intention is to develop the remaining functions of their brains as much as possible by letting them know about the presence of their mouths through the available functions of their brains.

Kobayashi, Noboru (1981). "Ikiteiru koto wo tashikameru yubi shaburi - 1." (written in Japanese). Tokyo: Child Research Net. Retrieved Jan. 9, 2004, from the World Wide Web http://www.crn.or.jp/LIBRARY/KOBY/MIRAI/cbs0109.html
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