Thumbs Up, Down and Out (of the Mouth)

I used to think I had it made. My Sophie was one of those good babies who always knew how to calm herself down. All Sophie needed to do was find her beloved little thumb and start sucking. And then magically, she’d be fine. It’s as if the thumb had special healing and calming powers that helped her overcome all obstacles. How lucky was I?! A kid who calmed herself.  Little did I know that four years later I’d be wondering how on earth I’d break this thumb-sucking habit.

The reality of Little Miss Thumb-sucker hit me last week during Sophie’s semi-annual trip to the dentist. After a terrific cleaning where they raved about her excellent brushing habits, we ventured in to see the dentist for the actual exam. And then came the words I knew we would hear eventually — we need to work on curbing Sophie’s thumb-sucking habit.

This doesn’t come as a surprise to me. Bryan sucked his thumb until he was about 7-years-old. He tells me his parents resorted to one of those mouth devices to get him to stop. (Truth be told, I’m not sure if he’s ever recovered from the ordeal.)

With Sophie, it’s slightly different. The good news is that she only sucks the thumb when she has her trusty blankie with her. She’s not a kid who sucks constantly all day long at school and at the dinner table. Her sucking is confined more to being tired, scared, or needing to relax. And if blankie is not there, neither is the thumb-sucking.

You are probably thinking the solution is easy — just remove the blankie. And yes, I could do that. But I will be honest — I’m not comfortable with removing her sole security object from her at such a young age. That almost goes up there with childhood trauma, in my opinion. I wonder, if our blankies, pacifiers and comfort items were not ripped from us at an early age, would we be more self confident now? Would we have annoying oral habits as adults (like my fingernail biting I just can’t quit)?

I think Sophie’s been a thumb-sucker since in the the womb. In this photo – taken of her just a few hours after birth – there’s her little thumb in her mouth.

When she was an infant, the only way she would sleep well was on her tummy. Mainly because when on her tummy, she could get the thumb into her mouth since her hand was lying flat next to her.

As she grew older, the thumb-sucking occurred only with the blankie (as you can see from this picture taken last month). While I do think it’s cute and reminds me of Linus from the Peanuts gang, I know it eventually needs to stop.

So help me fellow parents and former (or current) thumb-suckers!

What’s your take on all this? Does your kid suck their thumb? How did you stop it? Or did you? Any and all advice is welcome.  We’re all in this together, so hopefully I can learn from your stories (successes or failures). What should I do about my little Thumb-alina?

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