Parenting Questions Answered - Thumb Sucking



I have often had questions about how to do things with my kids(cloth diapers, taking paci away, etc) or I just wanted to know what your thoughts were(what age gap was best between children, your opinion on a baby name, etc) and I always turn to you. It is always fun to see what the opinions of other parents are and to see what worked for them. I'm going to start posting parenting questions that I am always curious about.

If you have a question you'd like me to post, send me an email at twoofakind868@aol.com.

Please be respectful of everyone's answers. We are not here to judge-just to see what works for other families.

Today's question:

Isabella is a thumb sucker. Evan was a paci baby and I was able to take it away at 18 months. How do I get her to eventually stop sucking her thumb? Did your kids just stop one day or did you have problems?


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24 comments:

Kelli @ RTSM said...

None of mine were thumb suckers, but I know it can sometimes be really hard to "get rid of" the thumb!

Megryansmom said...

I was a thumb sucker. My mother tried to discourage it, didn't work. I eventually stopped (like when I was 12) My daughter was a thumb sucker, I bribed with trinkets and special treats, it didn't work, she stopped at 10. A good orthodontist will fix everything. Don't sweat it.

Laura (Soleflor Mom) said...

My daughter will be 6 and she started dumb sucking at the age of 2,5. Everyday I tell her she needs to stop because she soon is going to first grade but...no results.
I guess I'll have to wait until she naturally leaves the thumb.

Emily E. said...

I was a thumb sucker until I was about 8. I stopped because I had a friend over for a sleepover and I was finally old enough that I felt ashamed to still be sucking my thumb. So I stopped then and there. The dentist said it wasn't hurting my teeth so my mom didn't try and pressure me to stop.

My brother sucked his thumb too but the dentist said it was affecting his teeth so my parents made him stop at a much younger age. I don't know what trick they used though.

Alison said...

Cough cough. I was a thumb sucker until like a few months ago... LOL I only did it at night when falling asleep or when I was watching tv at night.. it was a comfort thing.

I um just stopped on my own. But I never did it in public. Eventually I guess they will grow out of it?

I had braces because of an overbite caused by sucking my thumb. It never got as bad as it was before I guess. Though I still have an overbite and could probably use braces because of that.

So hi. I'm 24 and just now don't suck my thumb anymore. *wave*

Kelly said...

Okay... my girl was a thumb sucker as an infant. Tried to force the pacifier on her. Hey... I can't cut off her thumb! I can throw out a pacy! Anyway.. .now she is 9 years old and still does it. ALL THE TIME. It isn't that she wants to , but at this point it is a habit. I have done numerous posts on the things I have tried to help her stop, but we are back to square one! Her teeth are getting pretty messed up because of it. I was hoping maybe once she got to school the kids would make fun of her and she would stop. I know... terrible mom! BUT .. . it backfired, because no one makes fun of her! Oh well...

TwinHappyJen said...

IMHO, the worst possible thing you can do is TRY to get your kids to stop sucking their thumb. My parents tried everything in the book when I was a kid... and, all it served to do was make it such a central issue in my childhood, that now I'm 35 and still suck my thumb... and probably always will. And personally, I'm fine with it... I don't do it in public... I have never smoked, been addicted to alcohol or drugs... if the worse thing I do is suck my thumb occasionally, in the privacy of my own home, I think I'm pretty good :-p But, I think if my parents had just left me alone about it, I probably would have given it up at some point in my childhood. When my stepdaughter came to live with us, when she was about 8 years old, she sucked her thumb. Her mother had tried everything to get her to stop. We completely ignored it (and told her brother not to say anything to her anymore about it), though, and within a few months she stopped... and hasn't done it since. Some children may take longer than others to stop... but, the more you force the issue, the worse you'll make things...

Evonne said...

My daughter is 8 and still sucks her thumb. Not as often as when she was a baby, but she still does it.

It seems the more we bribe, yell, etc, the more she does it. From reading the previous comments, I think we may try to back off for a bit and see what happens.

Thanks for posting this and helping me realize I'm not alone in this battle!

Melinda said...

pacifiers weren't that bad here, Sabreena became a sleeping thumb sucker as a preschooler/kindergartener. we would go into her room and just pull it out. I think she still does it sometimes but it isn't a conscience decision. I would just encourage her to stop because she's a "big girl" now and only babies such thumbs.

Krystyn said...

Neither of mine were thumb suckers, but I practically forced the paci on them...the biggest reason was I saw kids that were seniors in high school that STILL sucked their thumb.

Twinkling Tees said...

My oldest was a "sucker" - her fingers of choice were her middle and ring finger on one hand. At age 3, we started to limit where it was allowed - only in the car and at home, then eventually only at home, then after that only when she was in bed. By the time she turned 5, she'd decided on her own that she no longer needed it to fall asleep, and that was the end of it!

Gradually easing her out of it, with gentle reminders when she forgot and little rewards and praise when she remembered, really worked wonders!

Jenna said...

Great question...I've always wondered the same and am looking forward to all the answers! Our daughter took a pacifier (which we finally took away without a fuss thanks to making a build-a-bear), but our son seems to prefer his thumb. It seems like it will be harder to break the thumb than the pacifier.

S Club Mama said...

Tristan sucks his thumb (all the time) at 2 1/2. When he was 15 months we tried to take it away (by wrapping it in athletic tape). That sucked. At that same time, I watched a special on thumb sucking on our local news station. A lady in Omaha specializes in kids who suck their thumbs & getting them to stop. She doesn't see them until they are 5 because until then (give or take for each different kid) they do not have the reasoning to understand WHY they need to stop, unless they just up and stop themselves.
A friend of mine from church said her son had to go to kindergarten with one of those braces on his thumb because that was the only way to get him to stop.
Our dentist told us to not worry about it for now even though he is developing a slight overbite.

laura said...

Unfortunately I think the best way to stop thumbsucking is to not let it start in the first place. I knew about the whole "it's easier to take away a pacifier than it is a thumb" thing. So I went with that..
But once started probably, like some others have said, the best way is to just ignore it. Maybe discourage it outside the home if what others would think bother you. It's human nature to want to do something even more when someone else is discouraging it..

Deb - Mom of 3 Girls said...

Abby and Becca never sucked their thumbs or took pacifiers. But Hannah has been a thumb sucker since she was about 2 weeks old - going on over 7 years now.

Nowadays she only sucks her thumb at night, and honestly I haven't actually seen her suck it in weeks if not months, so she may have quit on her own without my even noticing. I think peer pressure has had a lot to do with it - first grade seems to be working for that on several fronts.

Having been a thumb sucker myself, I was reluctant to make a huge issue of trying to get her to stop. We'll see how the dentist bills come out in a few years. ;)

melissa said...

Three out of four of our kids sucked their thumbs. We didn't make that big of a deal about it. But when our older two were 6 & 4, we told them how thumb sucking wasn't good for their teeth and how they were big and didn't need it anymore. Then we told them they could choose a special toy if they went 30 days w/o sucking their thumbs. We used the yucky-tasting polish to help remind them. It worked wonderfully. They both quit. Our youngest only sucked her thumb w/ her taggie blanket. Around her 4th birthday she lost the blanket & hasn't sucked her thumb since. We just got lucky w/ her :)

Kara said...

I would suck my middle two fingers instead of my thumb. But I did it mostly before falling asleep. So my mom would put socks on my hands before bed. I don't ever rememeber sucking my fingers so it must have stopped it pretty early. Or I've repressed the memories. Who knows...

Brodie said...

Thankfully none of my 4 kids sucked there thumb, but I did as a child, as well as my sister. I have heard of putting something bad tasting on the thumb (vinegar) so that they might stop- or putting something over their hands, glove or sock~
good luck~ I must have grown out of it, because I don't remember stopping~

Julia said...

this is great advice ladies.

my daughter was a paci baby. took it away at 21 months and she was fine!! but then she started sucking her thumb whenever she had a certain doll in her hands. we let it go, but eventually took the doll away... no such luck, still sucks her thumb. we gently remind her not too (if she's watching a movie) but i don't mind if she does it at night.

my son (14 months) was always a thumb sucker. I TRIED to get him to take the paci and he wouldn't. so no such luck there either.

Tracye said...

I have THREE thumb-suckers.

My daughter (8 next week) pretty much stopped on her own during the day, about a year or two ago. Whenever we would see her doing it (when she was bored or tired) we would just remind her to take it out. But she couldn't stop doing it at night once she fell asleep. So our dentist recommended a thumb guard. They're expensive, but it works. She still sucks her thumb when she's asleep, but NOT if she's wearing the thumb guard. She's been wearing it every night for several months. It's not uncomfortable, so she'll just continue wearing it at night until she no longer needs it.

Our dentist isn't worried about the baby or the 3 year old doing it. He says to never embarass a child because of it, and he doesn't encourage stopping the behaviour until they start losing teeth. Then he just says to remind them to remove it each time you see the behavior.

Good luck! You're lucky you only have to deal with one thumb-sucker!

Penelope said...

I was a thumbsucker, and had to have braces as a result. Not sure what my son will be. There is a product called "Thumb" that is a spicy, bitter liquid you put on the thumb (and lasts for hours) to help discourage thumbsucking, but I'm not sure I'd have the heart to do this to little man if I need to.

alissa4illustration said...

They say if you ignore it...the problem will go away on it's own.

That's what happened with our oldest, he just stopped sucking one day. I was kind of glad he sucked his thumb because he had a staph infection at 7 months. That was a soother!

I sucked my fingers when I was little until a dentist showed me pictures of what it does to your teeth later on. Then I stopped.

I'm trying to wean my youngest of breast feeding. We weaned him during the day, but morning and night is so tough!

Andrea said...

Try the positive way rather than the bitter stuff.since thumb sucking is such a comforting habit, you have to use a tool that is positive vs negative. There is a positive and fun product called "Thumbuddy To Love" and you can get it on thier web site or on Amazon. It really works to help kids break the thumb sucking habit.

Tara said...

Wow...I didn't know that there was so many people who had thumb sucking problems. Thanks for the helpful info. My son sucks his thumb, although it's fine for his age now I often wonder...HOW CAN I TAKE A THUMB AWAY?! LOL... I didn't like him using a paci....but at least that can be taken away! Hopefully he'll grow out of it naturally.

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