17 different women, 36 crazy children, 0 babies in utero
Adventures, Advice and Questions from a group of Mormon women who met in Queens, NY and have now scattered all over the place.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

See ya Suckers.

My Dad is a dentist. Every morning and every night he would ask/advise: "Brush your teeth say your prayers!?" It was always a question and a command rolled into one; Two times a day without fail. Luckily he was not a nazi about flossing. Though my teeth are far from perfect, I have some dental habits that are ingrained in me: I floss my teeth everyday, I wear my bightplate and retainer every night, and I don't let my children suck their thumb.

Now that I have two kids, I realize that not all children are created equal. One daughter cuddles, sleeps on her back and is a picky eater, the other arches her back, sleeps on her stomach, and eats anything. One thing both of my kids have in common though (besides being the most precious of angels), is that neither of them suck their thumbs. If it was in their nature to never suck, fabulous. However, I have made an overly-conscious effort to raise NON-thumbsuckers.

From night 1 my babies were given a binky. My philosophy is that you can destroy a binky, but you cannot cut off a thumb. Baby #1 loved it. Baby #2 was not AS into it, but I never threw it out, I always offered it as a means of comfort. As a side note, I think the best brand of binky (for a baby's palate development) is the NUK. From Gerber's website: "NUK® pacifiers help baby's tongue, palate and jaw develop naturally. The #1 orthodontic pacifier." I am not a professional, but there is another brand of binky I gave my daughter, and I swear over time, her teeth started jutting out a bit. I stopped giving it to her, and they went back in. I swear.

I realize that not all moms agree with my NO THUMBS ALLOWED philosophy (which extends to binkies past 2 years old, mainly for speech development reasons). I was with one of my tales friends (who will remain nameless unless she chooses to come forward) a few months ago and her small baby started sucking her thumb and she thought it was so cute and sweet. The way I was raised, the site of a sweet little baby with a thumb in her mouth made me want to run for a fire extinguisher or call poison control. It's like my fatal allergy to shellfish: LOBSTER=POISON, similary THUMB=MURDER OF THE PALATE....AAAAAAAAAAH...run for your lives!

This mom thought it was no big deal b/c her older child had sucked the thumb, and weaned of it, and had no obvious dental issues or dependency issues or whatever. She found that she could cure it easily. I am just terrified to even go there. If I have a third, I am hoping that my techniques work, and that I will not have to "deal" with a thumb-sucker.

But what if my kids thumbsucking was just never in their nature, and I really had nothing to do with it? What will I do if baby 3# loves his thumb? I think my Dad will disown me.


  • I am with you on the thumb-sucking. I would do anything to avoid it. My sister let's hers do it, claiming there is nothing else she could do. I just send her pacifiers (which I have found easy to wean from) for birthdays and pray none of my kids fall prey to thumb-sucking.
    posted by Blogger a spectator at 5/28/2006 07:50:00 PM  

  • Welll.... having a dentist for a husband offers us with a similar perspective.. but I will say with a grateful sigh that neither my preschool age daughter or my toddler boy have had either paci-fiers or thumbs... why?

    Well, the only thing I think I did was that I was honestly too lazy to force a paci with either of them. The thought of waking up in the middle of the night to stick it back in so they could sleep always sounded like a nightmare. They seemed to hate them from the get go and all my friends who HAVE gotten their kids to use them appeared to me to have forced the issue until the baby would cave in and take it.

    In addition to that, when I did try the pacis (which not only are NUK the best for the palatte, they are really cute) I kinda felt like it covered too much of their cute little faces, and I loved to see every little coo and smile.

    I am sure there are babies who MUST SUCK on something, so I guess a paci is better for the same reasons you said Kage. But I guess until I am "blessed" with a baby who demands the need for sucking action I will then have to decide.

    Thumbs do seem easier... but you're totally right- you can't hide that when it's time to wean! Kind of like biting finger nails... my dad used to bribe my sister $10 per nail to get her to quit biting!
    posted by Blogger Rachel H at 5/28/2006 07:54:00 PM  

  • I know of an adult who still sucks her thumb and she hates that she cannot stop the habit, so I chose pacifiers over possibly having an adult thumb sucking child with an overbite.
    posted by Blogger Tri Mama at 5/28/2006 09:03:00 PM  

  • I am a strong supporter of the non-thumb, pacifier sucking child.

    My first had a pacifier until she turned 26 months, at that point she took them to target and traded them in for a barbie back pack.
    End of story.... yeah right.

    So we went 4 months pacifier free, no problem. her teeth were straight again, she was free from oral fixation..... And then in the middle of the night I found her sucking her thumb!!!!!! WHAT??? How does that happen? The whole reason for having a pacifier is so you don't suck your thumb.
    We can't seem to kick the addiction. She just turned 4 and is still sucking strong. I am going to start saving now for braces and head gear, because the way things are going she is going to need them for a long, long time.

    I was a thumb sucker and I turned out okay, but from a Mom's standpoint it is kind of a nasty little habit.
    posted by Blogger Abby at 5/28/2006 09:09:00 PM  

  • I am torn with this issue and I think it's because I have a 50/50 baby. I have given my baby a pacifier only at bedtime (as he has a very hard time falling to sleep on his own) and sometimes he takes it, but always spits it out about 20 minutes or so after he has fallen asleep. Sometimes if he's upset or we're at a store and he starts wailing I might give him a binky, too, but I'm with Rachel H in that I've never wanted him to get too dependent on it (not because I read anything in a book). I just don't want to be the sole-provider of his comfort. I don't want to have to go digging thru my purse every 5 minutes to pull out a binky. I also want to see his cute smiles and hear his coos and even cries if that's what he needs. I don't wanna pop a binky in his mouth everytime he whines a little. And it's always bugged me when I see 2 and 3 year olds (or older in some cases I guess) who have their binky in their mouths when they talk.

    The other side of the coin is that I swear it seems inevitable that he will be a thumb sucker. He is only 3 months, but when he is able to find his thumb, fist, or finger he sucks and goes to town on that thing. He has since week one it seems. I guess it feels better in his mouth (the skin is more like the breast maybe?), but he much prefers it to the binky. I have read things about thumb sucking being a way that babies learn to self-soothe and then they can take the thumb out of their mouth when they want to smile or express themselves. It seems that most mom's I've asked prefer the binky though, for the exact reason you mention - you can destroy it!

    This is my first baby, so we'll see how things go. I'm glad you posted this so I can get some good advice. And I have to admit, even though I'm not the Tales-girl you mentioned in your story, when my baby way about 6 weeks old I went into his room to check on him and he was sucking his thumb... it brought a tear to my eye it was so adorable. Not that I react this way to all thumbsuckers, but there's just something about a newborn sucking his thumb that is so sweet.
    posted by Blogger Beth at 5/28/2006 09:31:00 PM  

  • My kids are totally binkie babies all the way, and we use the NUK... #3 isn't as into it as her brothers were, but I'm not so hot at being a binkie, so I'm pushin" it.

    By the way, Kage, #3?? Is there something I missed somewhere??
    posted by Blogger Tracy M at 5/28/2006 10:05:00 PM  

  • I sucked my fingers at night until I was about 6, and it was dental work that made me snaggle-toothed, not sucking my fingers....just a thought.
    Son#1 had a pacifier, but kicked it himself overnight at about 8 months.
    Son#2 used his longer but there was no denying him since I would have been chapped and sore from comfort nursing had he not used one.
    This is one of those things I always thought I was clear on until I had kids. Funny how real life makes you reconsider, yeah?
    posted by Blogger Mo Mommy at 5/28/2006 11:41:00 PM  

  • tracy m, I don't know how you do it, but I could swear you are one of the tales girls...rachel h too...it's so funny.

    Anyway, no, if I get pregnant with #3 I will either be on here way more or not at all, b/c I will probably be lying down on my couch for about 3 months. yikes. No, no announcement, just a possiblity for the future...
    posted by Blogger Kage at 5/29/2006 05:55:00 AM  

  • I had a professor in graduate school who said that thumb sucking and pacifier use did not actually change the way your palate or teeth develop unless they are used well past the age of about 4. I don't know if she's right, but I did ask the question. I have two nieces who sucked their thumbs--one has a serious overbite, and one has absolutely perfect teeth. Just my two cents.

    Still, I'm all for getting the kid to calm himself, without binky or thumbsucking. We got rid of J's binky when we sleep trained him, because, as has been said, the thought of getting up in the middle of the night to stick a binky back in his mouth was just too depressing. He kept it for naps for about 2 more months, and was done with the whole thing at about 6 months. Fine with me, baby.
    posted by Blogger Heather O. at 5/29/2006 07:03:00 AM  

  • So, I'm the "tales girl" with the cute thumb-sucking baby Kage mentioned. I'm coming forward! :)

    Yes, first and third children started sucking thumbs between 3 and 4 months old. Second child never did. None of my kids, though I tried, were soothed much with binkies. Occasionally 3 months and younger, but they all refused them after that.

    Ideally, I'd have no habitual sucking going on (no quitting issues later). But, my second child did that and was a nightmare to get to sleep. So, some comfort thumbsucking with #3 was welcomed. :) Like Kage said too, our first thumb experience was a good, easy one. If I had family/friends who had big struggles with it, I probably would have tried to do something to stop it.

    Two techniques I've heard of: One friend of mine with thumb-phobia stuck a paci in her boy's mouth EVERY time ANY of his fingers were in his mouth. It bugged me to watch her stick the thing in all the time, but perhaps it helped her goal.

    Second was another friend who's son actually started sucking his thumb--she slept with him every night for 2 weeks and pulled out his thumb every time she heard the sucking sound. Habit stopped (or didn't get the chance to formulate).

    Sucking is, as I'm sure everyone knows, a natural way for babies to comfort themselves. Sucking thumbs is how they can do it independently--it's natural, terribly convenient, and makes baby happy.

    I don't have a passion on what parents should do because so much will just happen based on your baby's personality and preference. As much as you may hope to have control, you might not really have much of a say at all. Pushing (notice, I didn't say "offering") a baby into being a pacifier user or whatever isn't my thing.

    And as far as orthodontics--my mom had 9 kids, maybe a few sucked thumbs, but we ALL needed head gear or braces or some kind of work. Don't most people anyway?
    posted by Blogger Katie at 5/29/2006 07:22:00 AM  

  • My kids never sucked their thumbs, nor would they entertain the idea of a pacifier. Why? Because mommy was their human pacifier. Yes, I'm one of those nuts, not that I necessarily wanted to be. I tried every pacifier in the store - every shape, every size, every design, imported, domestic, you name, but not one was as good as ME. Yikes! A couple times I think I actually tried to stick their little thumbs intheir mouths, but no dice. Well, that phase is over (thank goodness) and at least they don't have buck teeth!
    posted by Anonymous meems at 5/29/2006 07:29:00 AM  

  • Um...well, I haven't read all the comments yet to see if this has been covered, but #1 was a big thumb sucker (even in the womb, and yes, I have a picture, so I know it wasn't anything I did).

    #2 was a huge binky baby. I thought that was great. Like Kage said, I can destroy a binkie, but then, when we did get rid of the binkie, she went right to her thumb! I had never heard of a kid doing both! We tried to reintroduce the bink, but she wouldn't hear of it, the thumb was just way too convenient.

    Well, now she is 5, and we hoave thumb guard on her, to help her stop. My input is - binky babies are not necesarily non thumb babies. Who knew?
    posted by Blogger The Wiz at 5/29/2006 09:59:00 AM  

  • What will you do if your #3 loves his thumb? You could either resort to the (what I think are) crazy things Katie's friend did to her baby, or you can realize that it's actually not a big deal and is not worth the worry.

    I have a thumbsucker, I also have a binky lover. I honestly think that if you really have a thumb sucker on your hands, no binky (forced or offered) will stand in his/her way of getting at that digit.

    For those new moms who never had thumbsucking on their list of worries before this post, just know that almost all dentists and pediatricians say that thumbsucking is natural and healthy. Most kids will stop by themselves between the ages of 2 and 4. Permanent damage to the teeth and pallate doesn't happen until after the age of about seven (if they continue to suck until then).
    I wish my first had taken a binky because like everyone has already said, you can get rid of a binky. But, I would have never gone further than continuing to offer her a binky to try to "break" her of the habit when she was a baby. I just don't feel right doing anything extreme to break my baby from what I (and many other professionals) call a natural and healthy habit.
    posted by Blogger TftCarrie at 5/29/2006 09:23:00 PM  

  • My husband is a pediatrician and my father-in-law is a dentist so I have to thank Carrie for her post. It's really NOT that big of a deal....I personally think it's more of us mommies making an issue. It's our hang-ups (good or bad) most of the time. Sucking is so natural and I truly believe that there are those kiddos that NEED the thumb. The bink just doesn't cut it. I've got 4 and they've all done the bink. My sis has 4 and they've all done the thumb. 2 of hers needed work and 2 sailed through perfect. Who'd guess?
    posted by Anonymous starr at 5/29/2006 10:37:00 PM  

  • I don't disagree that sucking is natural, and I actually remembered a photo of my baby sucking her thumb, which I added to the post. This is the baby that was in love with her binky too...she just loved sucking. Baby #2 wasn't as into sucking....so I guess it is genetic and starts in the womb.

    Carrie, what Katie suggested about lying in bed with her baby for 2 weeks, actually resonated with me....and I did not find it crazy...which indicates to me that I might be crazy...?
    posted by Blogger Kage at 5/30/2006 04:47:00 AM  

  • Thank goodness my babies never liked thumbs or binky's.

    On a side note, any Idol watchers? Mandisa said she still sucks her thumb, and her teeth looked great!
    posted by Blogger Zinone at 5/30/2006 06:33:00 AM  

  • My oldest sucked his thumb in the womb (I have a picture too) but when he was born I got him to take a binky instead.

    My brother sucked his thumb till he was 7 or so, and my parents let me have a bottle until I was 5. We both had big overbites.
    posted by Anonymous Susan M at 5/30/2006 07:13:00 AM  

  • Kage,

    Everyone has their things they choose to be crazy about. I just think everyone should know that most dentists, unlike your dad, say that thumbsucking is not really something to worry about.
    posted by Blogger TftCarrie at 5/30/2006 08:19:00 AM  

  • I've had 2 suck their thumbs, 2 take binkys, three wouldn't take either (and that was the worst of it all) One gave up her thumb on her own at 15 months, one had to have his blanket taken away at age 7 to get him to stop(thumb and blanket went together) both binky girls had to have them taken away(binky fairy came) I prefer thumbs. I don't have to crawl under the crib in the middle of the night looking for a thumb. I don't have to try and drive and search the carseat for the thumb at the same time. With their thumbs I never was worried that I was forcing it on them(unlike the binky). My 5 month old takes the binky, but with all her siblings around to shove it in her mouth every time she makes a noise, how could she not? She really likes her fingers though, and I am hoping she'll drop the binky for them! By the way, my kid's dentist was not worried about the thumb sucking until he was older, which is why he was 7 when we took the blanket away. And couldn't you have the same problem with binkys and older kids? Also, no braces on either thumb sucker, beautiful teeth. (ok, no braces on any one so far, thank goodness for their dads genes because I had braces three times!)
    posted by Blogger Karen at 5/30/2006 08:42:00 AM  

  • I've got a sis-in-law that still sucks her thumb (at night) at 26 and 3 kids later. Her teeth are fine.....guess it's just a hard habit to break. I really think every mouth is different. Ya Z, I thought Mandisa had great teeth too.
    posted by Anonymous Anonymous at 5/30/2006 11:58:00 AM  

  • ok so the 26-year-old has ok teeth, should I be worried that an adult woman is sucking her thumb at night?
    karen...I am doing the math...do you have 7 kids? whoa nelly
    posted by Blogger Kage at 5/30/2006 12:09:00 PM  

  • Ya, I freaked when I heard it at first......SOMETHING is off if you're still going strong at 26. Now, because I love my DH and don't want to "bag" on his fam too much, I just say whatever and know that she's "crazy" in my own little head. :) I'm with ya though, doesn't sound right to me!
    posted by Anonymous Anonymous at 5/30/2006 12:31:00 PM  

  • Hi everyone, just the dental hygienist in me chiming in here. . .USUALLY thumb sucking/binky use doesn't cause a problem. I think it depends on how often, how long, how vigorously they do it. Some kids just need to suck their thumb for about 5 minutes to get themselves to sleep then don't touch it the rest of the night. Others may suck on it throughout the night, and day. I will say that I've seen plenty of kids and a quick look at their choppers tells me they're a thumb sucker. Sometimes having the dental hygienist or dentist talk with them may help but most of the time I've found that the biggest pressure comes from their peers, so usually once they are in kindergarten if someone finds out they suck their thumb, those lovely kids will chat it up.

    Usually dental professionals will not worry about it until around age 5 when those permanent teeth are wanting to erupt and the position and bite of the teeth becomes important. It's true, most children these days need some sort of ortho to correct the bite (not just straighten the teeth), but I have seen a handful of kids with really screwed up palates.

    Now as for my own kids, all binky lovers. The oldest ones used theirs just at naps and sleep until almost 3 (I was a binky lover til almost 3 years old too.) They gave theirs to Santa ("for the new babies that need binkies") we were lucky enough to have smart Santas at the mall that we could hand them to and they understood! Of course Santa came through with a nice swap.
    posted by Blogger wendysue at 5/30/2006 08:03:00 PM  

  • Is it weird that I have no clue whether I was a thumbsucker or not? Everyone else seems to know what their own preference was as well as their siblings, husbands and grandparents. Impressive.
    It is a natural thing for babies to suck. My baby will take the pacifier. He doesn't want it all the time. He takes it out or spits it out a lot and then I have to get up and put it back in. UGH. The thought of sleeping with him for weeks and listening for a sucking noise...makes me shudder.
    I guess I had never given it much thought. I gave him a binky because I read/heard that was an easier habit to kill than thumb sucking. Guess I am lucky that he takes it...so far.
    And please, if # 3 likes his thumb, don't chop it off! Being thumbless would be tougher than having braces;)
    posted by Blogger Melissa at 6/01/2006 12:21:00 AM  

  • eight kids actually
    posted by Blogger Karen at 6/02/2006 10:20:00 PM  

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