Knowledge of Non-nutritive Digit Sucking Among Mothers of Under-Five Children in Ilorin, Nigeria


  • SO Bello
  • RM Ibraheem
  • A Saka



Children, Digit sucking, Non-nutritive sucking, Oral habit, Nigeria


Background: The sucking habits of infants can be nutritive and non-nutritive sucking. Digit-sucking is normal in babies and young children, but sometimes it may persist into early childhood.  

Objective: To determine the burden, knowledge and belief of mothers/caregivers concerning digit sucking among under-five children.

Methods: A cross-sectional study involving children under the age of 5 years attending the University of Ilorin Teaching Hospital, Ilorin, Nigeria, was conducted. The mothers of selected children were surveyed using an interviewer-administered questionnaire.

Results: The prevalence of non-nutritive digit sucking was 45.8%. While 68 (43.9%) of these children sucked their digits, 3 (1.9%) sucked pacifiers. The thumb and two digits were the preferred digits (52.9%). Sucking was done while awake in 36 (52.9%) children while 32 (47.1%) sucked whether awake or sleeping. Most (60.3%) mothers have the wrong perception of digit sucking and had attempted to discourage it.

Conclusions: The prevalence of non-nutritive and digit sucking was high in the population studied. Sucking occurs while awake and asleep, both day and night. Most mothers have the wrong perception of digit sucking and had attempted its stoppage.


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Original Research