Break your child out of these 7 adverse health habits

(Aldo Murillo)

Thumb sucking, picky eating, and nose picking are not only annoying, but they can have lasting effects on your child’s health.

Here, experts weigh in on why these habits are harmful and offer their best tips for how to deal with your child’s behavior.

1. Hanging on the bottle
Switch from a bottle to a sippy cup is often one of the hardest things for toddlers to do. Plus, drinking too much milk can cause your to skip meals and miss out on the calcium-rich foods, such as green vegetables, yogurt and cheese, and can even lead to iron deficiency.

Of course, allowing your child to fall asleep with a bottle in his mouth can also lead to cavities and tooth decay.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that toddlers transition to a sippy cup by 15 months of age, but experts say that the time to start introducing the sippy cup around six months, so by the time she was a year old, it is gone forever.

“The truth is that they are satisfied most of their sucking needs by a year,” said Dr. Jane Scott, a pediatrician and neonatologist in Greenwood Village, Colorado, and author of “The Confident Parent: A Pediatrician’s Guide to Caring for Your little one, Without Losing Your Joy, Your Spirit, or of Yourself.”

Once your child has mastered the sippy cup and you think he’s ready, he can go to the use of a regular cup without a lid.

2. Thumb sucking
It is common for babies and young children suck on their thumb or their fingers to soothe themselves. However, depending on how intensely they suck and how long the habit lingers, it can affect the way their jaws grow.

Since sucking then the tongue from the roof of the mouth and compresses it, the habit can affect the normal growth of the upper jaw, causing it to develop scary, and leads to a crossbite or an overbite, said Dr. Jade Miller, president of the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD).

Oral habits can also cause the upper teeth to be flared, and the teeth of the lower jaw is to be pushed to the back.

The good news is that most children have no problems. Nevertheless, you must ensure that your child in for regular check-ups with a pediatric dentist from the age of 1 year, or when the first tooth breaks through, so that the dentist can rule out any problems.

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You can help your child to stop sucking his fingers with a special nail Polish that tastes bitter, a cotton glove or a finger guard. Sometimes praise your child with his fingers in his mouth and convince him not to do that, it will be enough.

“In many cases, the children will stop on their own,” says Miller.

3. Picky eating
If you have a child who snubs his vegetables, refuses to eat anything new and only eat a handful of foods, it is not only unhealthy for his growth and development, but it can be a lot of stress in your home.

“Because children eat several times a day, this is a pressure point in the family dynamics than other problems,” said Dina Rose, PhD, sociologist, parent educator and feeding expert in Jersey City, New Jersey and author of “It’s Not About the Broccoli: Three Habits to Teach Your Kids for a Lifetime of Healthy Eating.”

Instead of pulling your hair out at every meal, the first step is to realize that your child is not rebellious just to be arrested, but that they are the tools of you a healthy, adventurous eater.

Then, let your child explore with a size of a pea-sized amount of new foods so that they are armed with information about the new food and will feel safe, secure, and has the power to ultimately accept.

Instead of asking your child, ” Do you like it?’, ask how it smells, feels and looks like, for example.

“The goal is to teach children about food and not from a nutrition perspective, but from a sensory perspective,” Rose said.

4. Nose picking
Whether you want to admit it or not, your child probably picks his nose. Children usually pick their nose if they have boogers and it can get worse if they have a cold, congestion or allergies.
It is maybe annoying for you, but only time can become more difficult to deal with as it causes frequent nosebleeds, said Dr. John P. Dahl, a pediatric otolaryngologist at the Riley Hospital for Children at Indiana University Health in Indianapolis, Indiana and an assistant professor in the pediatrics and otolaryngology at the Indiana University School of Medicine says.

Help your child to wipe and blow his nose regularly and remind him to take his fingers out of his nose. If your child has a cold or an infection, a salt water saline spray or gel can clean his nose and moisten the lining. For babies and infants, a bulb syringe can also help.

5. Teeth grinding
Between 14 and 20 percent of children grind and clench the teeth, a condition known as bruxism. Children will usually grind their teeth at night, but it can also happen during the day, and it is common when new teeth arrive, or when children have stress and anxiety.

In fact, preschool-age children who grind their teeth are more likely to be withdrawn and have problems at school, according to a study presented at the 2008 SLEEP conference.

Children who have large tonsils and adenoids and obstructive sleep problems usually have the habit to be.

“Some children will grind by moving their lower jaw forward to keep their airway open,” says Miller.

The good news is that it’s rare that the grinding will be so severe that treatment is needed. If you suspect your child has obstructive sleep apnea, you should have your child seen by his pediatrician. And if grinding is affecting your child’s permanent teeth, his dentist may recommend a mouth guard.

6. Snacking throughout the day
Allow your child to eat every time he asks not only creates a power struggle, but it teaches your child that temporarily the hunger must be removed quickly. Graze the whole day long, especially on sweet, salty and fatty snacks, it also means that your child not eat because they are not hungry.

“These experiences push kids away from the healthy food that we try to get them to eat,” Rose said.

Instead of allowing your child to graze throughout the day, decide on a meal and snack schedule. At snack time, offer fruits and vegetables.

“It teaches them in the back of their mind that fruits and vegetables are the go-to food, not the special dishes that we serve at dinner,” she said.

7. Extended pacifier use
The pacifier is a enrichment for your child, and studies show that it can reduce the risk of SIDS. But it can also be a breeding ground for germs when your child puts it back in his mouth after dropping it or taking it. Long-term pacifier use can also increase the risk for ear infections, can lead to dental problems, and can affect the development of language skills, Scott said.

Although there is an end to the pacifier is much easier to do than thumb sucking because you can get rid of the object, when it is time to do this, it can still be difficult for your child to let it go.

If your child begins to walk, it is a good idea to limit the pacifier to naps and bedtime to keep it clean and limit the time he uses it.

When you’re ready to put an end to the good, you can ask your child to pack in a box and give it as a gift for another baby. “They feel like they’re doing something special. Often, they feel , ‘Ok, I can’t come back because this baby needs,” Scott said.


Julie Relevant, is a health journalist and a consultant who provides content marketing and copywriting services for the health care. She is also a mother of two. More information about Julie at


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