thumb sucking - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 10 Old 09-08-2011, 06:07 AM - Thread Starter
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My LO is 12 weeks old and has recently discovered her thumb. She's been sucking on it to calm herself. She's exclusively breastfed, no pacifier. I used to pull out her hand/thumb whenever I see them in her mouth, but she always puts them back in, and I realize that I can't watch her every single minute. I can see that sucking on her thumb soothes her-- she stays quiet and falls asleep easily. Should I be stopping her? Or is this something all babies do naturally?

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#2 of 10 Old 09-08-2011, 10:00 AM
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I don't really know the "correct" answer to this, but my DD sucks her thumb, too (she's 8mo now).  At this point, I'm not worried.  It helps soothe her and it looks really cute!  She basically only does it if she's tired.  I might change my mind if she's still doing it in a couple of years!  I know after a certain point it can interfere with the shape of the hard palate-- a dentist might be a good person to ask about that.

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#3 of 10 Old 09-08-2011, 10:16 AM
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I'd say LUCKY YOU AND HER.  I tried to get both my boys to suck their thumbs or fingers, to no avail.  It may help with sleep, self-regulation, and feelings of security.


Full disclosure:  I am 41 and rediscovered thumb-sucking after quitting earlier in adulthood.  It helped me quit smoking years ago and I occasionally still do it every now and again!

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#4 of 10 Old 09-08-2011, 06:23 PM
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I think some babies are just born with an innate drive to suck their thumbs. I have three, and only my last showed any interest in his thumb. His drive was obvious from birth, though it took him about 3 months to find his as well--interesting, isn't it that they don't truly find their thumbs until breastfeeding is well established? I figure if it's something that they're doing instinctively, who are we to mess with it?


Then again, my DS comes from a long line of thumb suckers, so I just attribute it to genetics.

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#5 of 10 Old 09-08-2011, 09:26 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks! I'm just not sure what the 'right' thing to do is (if there is a right thing, lol...). My mother told me she put tabasco sauce on our thumbs to stop us from sucking our thumbs, but I think that was when we were older, perhaps 1-2 years old. My dd's sucking seems instinctive to me-- she looks soooooo content with her thumb-- so I am reevaluating my belief that she shouldn't do it.


People do tell me it will mess up jaw/mouth development, but then my youngest sister sucked her thumb till 6-7 years old and is perfectly fine at 20 now. So how much of that is true, I wonder..

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#6 of 10 Old 09-08-2011, 09:39 PM
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The dental problems thing struck me as the stuff of urban legends, so I did some googling. Turns out it's true, apparently, but experts say you don't need to worry until the child is about 5, by which time they will probably stop sucking without your intervention. Sucking is especially common at age 6 months and younger, including in the womb. AAP and the Assoc of Pediatric Dentists don't recommend tobasco sauce or nasty stuff on the kid's thumb.

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#7 of 10 Old 09-08-2011, 09:52 PM
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I personally find the thumb sucking super cute. I've also noticed that thumb sucking seems to level off easier (in some ways) than the soother. You often see toddlers with a soother in their mouths all. the. time. & not talking or trying to talk around it, but not so much with the thumb because they need that thumb to do other things. It just seems to be used more often in actual comfort situations rather than as a constant. I could be biased though.


I sucked my thumb until I was 6. Apparently to the day. My parents tried the tabasco sauce & putting bandaids on my thumbs & pulling it out of my mouth constantly but nothing was a real deterrant. I said I would quit when I turned 6 & apparently I did.


As for the teeth thing - I could see how it could affect them - especially with a really constant sucker but for myself I have PERFECT teeth & have had no real dental work.

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#8 of 10 Old 09-08-2011, 09:59 PM
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I imagine that whether thumbsucking causes dental problems would depend on multiple factors.. the shape of their mouth to begin with, how far in their mouth they put their thumb, what angle, how often, if they suck gently or more forcefully. Both my kids sucked their thumbs, but quit around 6-8 months :( it was sad, because it was SO cute, and really helped them relax. I prefer the thumb to the paci because you'll never have to buy a new one, wash it, lose it, forget it, pick it up when dropped, etc. And the baby decides when they need it and when they don't, without a parent having to insert it. Also, while using a paci, babies can still play and crawl. A thumbsucking kid has to choose: crawl and play and explore, or suck. I think most kids will prefer to use their hands to explore their environments when they can :) So pacis are more likely to be used at any time of day, but thumbs will mostly be limited to falling asleep, riding in the car, sling, passive activities like that. Not so much playtime! 

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#9 of 10 Old 09-09-2011, 05:24 PM
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My son used to suck his thumb a lot. However, now he's 8 months, and I really can't recall the last time he sucked his thumb. I EBF (well, minimal solids). I think once my oversupply got more under control he could comfort nurse on me more, and now no longer sucks his thumb. Like pp have said, I wouldn't worry about it until they were much older. Then I would use distraction to try to limit their sucking, not forceful removal.



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#10 of 10 Old 10-25-2011, 10:50 PM
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My almost 4 month old has fallen in love with her thumb. I sucked my thumb til.... not sure, at least 7 and there was a lot of shame about it. So seeing her enjoy it tickles me and it IS cute. But I did have some slight dental stuff (some dentists can tell I sucked my thumb). So I didn't want my girls to have to go through trying to quit (I love that there is a person who rediscovered it in adulthood when quitting smoking). My first experimented with it, but she was a lover of the breast, so it was no big deal. This baby, though, prefers her thumb. If she's not hungry, she's not nursing. She does not nurse for comfort. If I offer her my breast when she is sucking her thumb, she cries.

So I am hoping it tapers when she needs to use her hands more. And I am hoping that I can comfort her some way :)  

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