Monday, October 11, 2010

When to stop sucking your thumb

Of course I mean Jack. So, when should he stop sucking HIS thumb? Well, since it hasn't stopped yet, we are of course sticking with the threat "you have to stop sucking your thumb when you lose your first baby teeth". Which will be any DAY now! His two bottom teeth are very loose, and it's exacerbated by the fact that his thumb pushes on them when he sucks. He usually only sucks his thumb when he's tired or very comfy with Stripey (his sleep pet) or his blanket. But he has substituted another stuffed animal when Stripey has gone missing.

We've already made some new rules:

1) You cannot take Stripey on the school bus. This has cut down on the thumb sucking to and from school, when I used to drive him both ways. Plus he's a big boy now. And we don't want him to lose her on the bus.

2) She MUST stay on your bed, or on your desk in the kitchen. (this after almost losing Stripey twice in one week) Now Jack says goodbye at the door, chucks her on his desk and he's gone for the day. When he gets off the bus, I distract him with a snack or playing outside, and extend the "no suck" zone.

When he rides in the car with us, we distract with books and drawing, etc. It's tough. He's just so good and so quiet when he sucks his thumb. :)

me: Jack, if you're reading a book back there, please don't suck your thumb. You're going to get the book all wet.

Jack: Mmmphhh.

me: Jaaaaackkkkk? Come on, pop it out.

Jack: (POP!) But I waaaannnnt tooooo. Fiiinnneee. (he starts reading)

me: That's a big boy. You can't suck your thumb when those teeth fall out. We have to practice now.

Jack: I don't think I can dooo thaaaatttt! (he looks very sad)

me: I know you can do it. We'll help you. You will mess up your grown up teeth if you keep putting your thumb in your mouth. That will involve lots of trips to the dentist. Not fun!

Jack: But it's so hard!!

me: I know. You have a very strong habit.

Jack: (suddenly very quiet, flipping pages)

me: (suspicious, I flip down the vanity mirror in the front seat and angle it so I can see him) Jack! I see you! Please take your thumb out while you read. Stop being sneaky.

Jack: (just looks at me) SIGH!!! (he chucks Stripey to the other side of the car)

Now I feel bad. I really don't want him to have to give up this giant source of comfort. I remember the very first night he sucked his thumb. He was about 3 and a half months old. Dennis and I crouched over his bassinet at 3am and wondered why he wasn't waking up. Dennis held the now cooling bottle of formula. We really didn't know what to do.

Dennis: We go back to bed, that's what we do. Let him sleep.

me: But, what if he's hungry?

Dennis: He'll wake up screaming if he's hungry. Look, he's sucking his thumb.

And sure enough, his tiny fingers turned and instead of sucking his whole hand, which is what he was doing initially, he found the tiny thumb and shoved it in up to the wrist.

me: Gross. I hope that doesn't last.

Ah, famous last words. Now, 5+ years later, we want him to stop? Awww. Mr. Thumb will be missed! But, he'll be less chapped and blistery, my son will have nice straight teeth, and he'll probably whine a lot more when he's tired. Is that an even trade? I'll keep you posted.


  1. I remember having the same conversation with Dillon when he was 5. He's 8 now....aaand still sucking his thumb! Ahhh! It's my daily battle. I've tried all the tricks and trades so if you figure something new out, let me know.

  2. No! NOOOO! Oh boy. 8! I'm having a heart attack now and he's only 5. We told him he could absolutely NOT suck his thumb once he loses a tooth. Turns out the bottom two teeth are hanging on by a thread. So any day now we have to drop the "no suck" bomb. We're at the "you can only suck your thumb in bed" level and so far pretty good. Maybe I'll try one of the night thumb guards because he does it in his sleep? Or, braces will be in his future. :)

  3. The reason it is hard to stop thumb sucking with all the negative tools like bitter polish is because thumb sucking is such a comforting thing to a child and they will not want to give it up when you put bitter polish (which has chemicals in it) or shameful thumb guards on. Try the positive approach…there is a fun thing for children called “Thumbuddy To Love” and it comes with a thumb puppet/story book with special tips on how to use it. Teaches kids in a fun and positive way to let go of something so comforting. worked for my kids. Here is the info: You can get it on Amazon or thumbuddytolove dot com.
    the sooner the better because prolonged thumb sucking can lead to buck teeth.