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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I think I must have messed up.

My son is just over 8 months old now. When he was born I carried him around some, but I don't think it was a lot (the first 3 months were a blur). I BF on demand and we always responded immediately to his cries. But when he was 6 weeks old we started looking for a house after ours unexpectedly sold. We looked for about a month and then we moved when he was 11-12 weeks old. He spent a lot of time out of my arms then, even though he was with me all the time. He was mostly in a bouncy chair. I did try a sling during his first 2 months on and off and he hated it - he prefered "hands on" I guess. I used a Baby Bjorn for times when we went for walks and small chores around the house and I thought I was helping him feel secure, but I don't think it was enough. I think he spent too much time out of my arms. The main reason why I think this now is because I bought Dr. Sears book on discipline today and I turned to the thumb-sucking part and it says that sucking satisfies the need for attachment, and I'm just devastated that I haven't filled Elijah's needs properly. This book suggests that if babies are held, rocked, sung to etc that they will learn that there are other ways to find comfort instead of sucking. I obviously haven't taught him that...because he sucks his thumb A LOT. If there is anything cloth around....a blanket, a facecloth, my shirt, anything, and if he is feeling a little mellow....he will drop what he's doing, grab it and suck his right thumb. (He wouldn't take a soother from the start - he hated the taste and from day 3 had perfected pushing it out of his mouth with his tongue.) Is it too late to fix my mistake of not holding him enough?
At the time I wanted to hold him lots, and I thought he was held enough, but he also spent a lot of time with us but out of our arms (you can't move a household with a baby in your arms). I sat on the couch and cried tonight because I'm feeling like my son has needed to find other ways to pacify himself because I failed at it. What can I do now? Do I just need to hold him more? I spend a lot of time interacting with him and pacing with him around the house because when he fusses I haul him around. Now he's getting too big for me to do things with him in my arms, so I walk around the house and talk to him, but I think he must need more of it.
I hope this doesn't seem like a dumb post. I really am devastated that I haven't done enough for him, and I'm looking for suggestions on how to help him feel more secure and content without him having to suck his thumb at his age (almost 9 months), as well as reassurance that I haven't messed him up.
 

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I wanted to tell you that we were quite committed to AP our son, and he still took to sucking his thumb as well -- started around 4 months and went until about 8 months, all the time. People would stop to comment on how cute he was, the little thumb-sucker. I admit I had some of the same feelings you did -- we went out of our way to avoid pacifiers, and he was BFed on demand (still is) and slung whenever possible. I realize now that his thumbsucking kind of corresponded with the arrival of his first two teeth, and once they were totally through he just sort of dropped the thumbsucking on his own. My theory is that he needed it to get through that rough patch, and now he's on to something else.


Is it possible your son's going through something similar? Teething, or another of those developmental milestones?
 

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I think you are prob doing just fine. Think of all of the mothers that just plop their kids down all day and never worry. So your lil man sucks his thumb. Maybe it does soothe him when he needs it but isnt it better that our children learn to soothe themselves now rather than later/never? What if you have to go potty and he gets a little scared? He will suck that thumb until you return rather than scream.
I held my first child in excess if there is such a thing. (I think so) At 18 mo she never wanted to be without me and I mean never. I had to bathe with her, pee with her in sight, etc. If she did not see me she would cry and run around until she found me. No one else had this problem with this that I knew. Why, because they let their kids have alone time from the get go. Me being a first time mom I never put her down. I didnt own a playpen, exersaucer, nothing but a babee tenda that I fed her in.
I think books make great reference material but what does your heart tell you? Is he happy? Is he loved? Unless you ignore him and never hold him I think he and his soggy thumb will be just fine.
Dont sweat the small stuff, just hold him when you have time, trust your heart and love him unconditionally.

 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Elijah started sucking his fingers and fist within the first month. He found his thumb shortly after that and was sucking it like a pro by 10 weeks. We kept taking it out of his mouth and replacing his thumb with a soother (our thought were that we can take a soother away easier than taking his thumb away when it was time to wean off it - lol - and that soothers don't cause the problems with teeth that thumbs do, but he HATED the soother). At the time we were moving and very stressed, and we decided to not fight it...it was a battle we thought we'd lose anyways. So...he's been sucking his thumb since about 2 months...and he's now almost 9, so I don't think it's a developemental milestone thing.
 

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I wouldn't stress too much. Babes comfort themselves in different ways... some by nursing, thumb sucking ,etc. Any little thing they do and we mamas are wondering if it's proof we messed up in some way.

If you're feeling worried, also know that it isn't too late to start wearing him. My dd is 14 mos and I wear her lots. Check out www.mamatoto.org for inexpensive ways to make a wrap carrier. My dd loves to be on my back in the rucksack or back wrap cross carries while I do stuff around the house/walk thru the neighbourhood.
 

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were you or his father thumbsuckers as babies? Pan and i were both major thumbsuckers, and Willow is already getting better at it. i prefer it to a binky, mostly because you can't drop your thumb under the sofa
anyway, i wonder if thumbsucking might be inherited. it sounds like you're doing a wonderful job with your little man and i can hear your love for him in your post, surely he's feeling it from you
 

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aw, please don't think you caused the thumb sucking! My 6.5 mo old babe who has spent most of his life in arms just started sucking his thumb last week. We're not too upset about it, I'm a finger sucker, DH was a thumb sucker and DS used a paci until he SELF- weaned from it around 2 - 3 (even though we found we were pushing the thing a ton by the end) Babies suck and that's what thumbs were designed for, lol!!
 

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My youngest ds was sucking his fingers within seconds of taking his first breaths. I kid you not. Babies suck fingers and thumbs in utero (and some are born with "sucking blisters" on their upper lips). I removed his fingers from his mouth and latched him on and he nursed for 2 hours straight after birth. My m/w was waiting around for him to latch off so she could look him over and weigh him. It was funny!

What I'm saying is I think I disagree with Sears on this one, and that you didn't necessarily create this need in your baby by not holding him enough, etc. Sucking is a pleasurable thing for babies, something they need, and it's not always related to food, either. Goodness knows he nurses plenty (he was just shy of 19lbs at three months) but sometimes he just wants to suck his fingers (or something else). He does this while being held, too.

Granted, he seems to be teething right now, and that's another reason for it. He even tries to put his fingers in his mouth while nursing (ow!) and will stop nursing to suck his thumb at times.
 

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look at it this way- few would say a baby who met sucking needs by nursing all day long was unattached. some babies wanna suck a lot, and yours has found a much more convenient thing to suck on!

my son was virtually never put down, even while sleeping, and he used a pacifier 'til he was almost 3!
 

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I agree with the others. My Dd is 4 and thumbsucker, she nursed until she was 3 and still co-sleeps with us as she has done since day one, so I don't think it's a lack of attachment. Others often pointed when she was a baby that the only time she sucked her thumb is when I was holding her
...now she only sucks when she is tired. I just think it's something she enjoys, she started at about 3 months.
 

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some babies just have higher sucking needs than others. Doesn't mean you did anything wrong. Both of my girls have really high sucking needs. Oldest had to comfort nurse constantly, day and night, for her first year. Second baby has been happy with her fingers when she doesn't want any milk. Both have been held and carried in the sling and never ever left to cry. If your son was happily playing by himself, you were not ignoring his needs!! It's the babies left to cry and cry who should be picked up and held.
 

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I sucked my thumb until I was 11, and now my 9 month old sucks her thumb too. I felt really bad about it at first, but I know I met her needs, so what else can I do? I have even tried to replace her thumb with my breast with no success. I know how you feel. Try not to feel bad though.
 

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Maybe this is all about perspective. DH and I wish that our baby was a thumb sucker. We think it is cute and we wish that she would feel safe enough to suck her thumb when she is insecure. Instead she usually wants to be held or to suckle at the breast which is fine but at 3am I wouldn't mind if her thumb popped in her mouth when she was having a momentary awakening.

In my opinion some babies just need their thumb more than others.

I was sure my baby would be a thumb sucker but she just does it occasionally when she is happy and playing. If she cries it never goes in her mouth for comfort. Also she doesn't know what to do with a paci. She just chews on the side and the handle.
 

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Since my second won't take a pacifier as his sister did, I wish he would suck his thumb! You can be superbly attached to your baby and not hold them that much- the "attachment" in attachment parenting refers to the bonding process, not baby literally being attached to you, though this can be a good thing anyway. Your baby is fine.
You can feel guilty if your baby is one of those mellow ones you can take advantage of. My dd was like that and believe me, now I have a higher-needs baby and I didn't know when I was lucky. Don't look a gift horse in the mouth! Again, your baby is fine, and it's great you were able to move house so easily. If you want to get a bit more close, you can certainly carry the baby more, but don't feel bad if baby doesn't need you to. It's about your baby's needs as an individual, and yours too, not about doing certain things or not.
 

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Does your baby like you to pick him up and cuddle him? Is he happy when you are near? That's all that attachment is, providing a resource, a home place, for the baby and then the child, so that they become resilient and grow into independent adults. All of these techniques of physical closeness are to make your baby feel that you love him, and you can see if that is working by the way your baby smiles at you and wants to be with you.

You can't measure attachment by whether a baby sucks his thumb. I know there are people out there who think that babies who nurse "enough" won't suck their thumbs. But there are so many people here who nurse on demand whose babies suck thumbs. It's a good thing for him, he can comfort himself, and he can also turn to you. So it's all good, and you are doing a good job.

 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Thank you all for your replies. I talked to my husband inbetween sobs about this and he says the same thing you have all said. He laughed at me and told me to relax. Our son smiles at us when he look at him and he laughs plenty. He seems happy most the time when he is playing alone on the floor. When he whines I now play with him or pick him up. I didn't do that all the time before, but I most certainly did tend to him if he started to cry. I think I wouldn't have reacted so badly if I had been getting a normal amount of sleep (whenever I get my nights back, it won't be soon enough. lol) Thank you for your comments. It's nice to know that people who started out with AP have babies who suck their thumbs. I sort of did, but probably not as hard-core as some of you.
 

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if your baby was content in the bouncy seat then he was probably doing fine. he would have let you know if he felt the need to be held. they do that very effectively


and it is never too late to give him good holding time until he's a big enough kid to be off and running and not want to be held by mama

i just moved too and it is HARD with a baby.
 

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I try to be very AP in all dealings with my son, but he <gasp!> loves his paci! (Lately, though, he's been sucking his thumbs/fingers more and more.) He just has an unbelievably high sucking need. I swore my kids would never have pacifiers, but one day when DS was about 3 weeks old he nursed more than 20 times before lunch - I knew it wasn't hunger, but mainly a need to suck. My parents were very AP with me and I kept a paci till I was almost 4 years old, but my sister who is only 20 months younger than me would never take one. Some kids just need to suck a lot - it doesn't neccesarily have anything to do with their parents' ability to meet their needs.
 

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Quote:

Originally Posted by mellybean
were you or his father thumbsuckers as babies? Pan and i were both major thumbsuckers, and Willow is already getting better at it.

I think you may have something with this. Lily was a thumbsucker since she was born, shortly after she came out that little thumb went right in her mouth. Her dad was a thumbsucker as well.

My son on the other hand never sucked his thumb, or took a pacifier, and his Dad (or I) never sucked ours.

Just had to put in my 2 cents

TRACY
 
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