Why does my child have strong-smelling urine?

What you need to know:

  • While many children stop sucking their thumbs by four years of age, some may stop and restart the habit in times of stress, as it gives them a pleasurable sensation and helps alleviate stress

The last time I asked about my son, I mentioned that his urine has a strong odour, even stronger than mine. Now, at nine years old, he is still sucking his thumb, which nobody else in the family does. I am worried if the child is mine. Joan

Dear Joan
Did you know that babies have natural sucking reflexes? This is meant to help them suckle at the breasts, but unfortunately, it might also make them suck their thumbs before and after birth. While many children stop sucking their thumbs by four years of age, some may stop and restart the habit in times of stress, as it gives them a pleasurable sensation and helps alleviate stress.

If thumb sucking continues beyond six years of age, when permanent teeth erupt, it can affect the teeth and the roof of the mouth (palate), with the lower teeth sinking in and upper teeth sticking out, increasing the risk of nail and gastrointestinal infections. 

When a child continues sucking their thumb beyond five months, some parents may resort to putting red pepper on the thumb, cutting the thumb, or dressing the hands with socks, instead of addressing the baby’s emotional concerns, which are usually to blame for the problem. These punishments may stress the baby more, leading to finding solace in thumb-sucking, instead of stopping the habit.

While thumb sucking may be genetic in some cases, the best way to determine paternity is by doing a paternity DNA test.