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I can’t tell you how many people reach out to me on a regular basis to share their concern over Marlowe’s thumb sucking! It’s rare for me to NOT be worried about things that other people are worried about (hello, Anxiety Disorder!), but the constant suggestion that her being four and “still” being a thumbsucker made me think a bit. Why wasn’t I concerned? I realized in giving it some thought that it’s actually a really interesting topic for discussion, and it’s perhaps one of the few parenting topics that I don’t feel conflicted about. I thought I would share a bit about Marlowe’s thumb sucking here today, and would open up the discussion for other parents who want to share what worked for them!
Marlowe came out of the womb with an oral fixation– heck, she had one IN the womb! Whenever we did an ultrasound, there she’d be either sucking one of her appendages or licking her placenta. Yes you read that right. I remember going in to a 30 week ultrasound and the technician saying as soon as she turned on the machine: “Oh! You got a little placenta licker in there!” (I mean. Ew. LOL. ) Once Marlowe was born, she loved feeding and/or having her pacifier in her mouth. It was a MUST. I ended up writing a piece about what an ordeal it was to have to take the pacifier away from her WAY early because I was literally clocking an hour of sleep a night! She would fall asleep fine with the paci, but as soon as she nodded off and it fell out of her mouth, she would wake up screaming. It was nuts. I ended up taking the pacifier away cold turkey, and after three days from hell, she found her thumb!!
My Mother-in-Law gave me awesome advice and told me to get her a lovey right away. Every time she put her thumb in her mouth, I should give her the lovey. That way she’d associate the thumb sucking with the lovey, and wouldn’t stick her thumb in her mouth unless she had the lovely also. And it worked!! Since just a few months old, Marlowe has been a thumbsucker– but thankfully only when we allow her the lovey. This has kept her from sucking her thumb all day long, and I think it prevented speech delays since we could prevent her from choosing the thumb over talking to us.
At first, we would only give her the lovey at nap times, bed times, and on car rides/plane trips. Then, as she got older and started getting bumps and bruises, separation anxiety, and during the phase when she became a big sister– we allowed her to have it a lot more. It was really comforting for her to suck her thumb and hold her lovey, but it started getting a little out of hand. Over the past year, I’ve dialed it back a bit. Now she gets her lovey (and thumb sucking time) at night, on long trips, and if she’s sick or very hurt. She also manages to finagle her way in to getting it when we watch movies together (I guess it’s technically rest time?). I’m starting to think about dialing it back as we begin to discuss what the next steps are for her thumb sucking and what we should allow as she gets close to starting elementary school.
When Marlowe became a thumbsucker, I was actually beyond happy about it. The fact that she had an object on her person with which to self-soothe made life so much easier for me! I actually tried to encourage Major to suck his thumb also for this reason, but he refused both thumb AND pacifier. Go figure. My only concerns about the thumb sucking were speech delays and problems with her palate and teeth long-term.
At Marlowe’s first dentist appointment, I was prepared for them to be aghast at her thumb sucking, but after examining her mouth they told me not to worry. They actually said that if I hadn’t told them she sucked her thumb, they actually may not have even known. I couldn’t believe it! They said that some kids’ teeth really aren’t effected that badly by thumb sucking, while others’ are. All of a sudden, I really wasn’t worried about this so-called “bad habit”. Marlowe has also been through so many changes the past couple of years, with a new brother, moving across the country, a few home moves, and another on the horizon– I’m kind of relieved that she has something that makes her feel so secure. That’s not to say that I’m not pretty worried about the day when we have to get her to stop: I AM WORRIED. She’s obsessed, and I’m not quite sure what the gentlest method is to encourage her to stop without fully traumatizing her.
Full disclosure, while I never sucked my thumb, I have a bunch of close friends who did– and continued well in to their elementary school years. But they don’t suck their thumbs now! At least that’s what they tell me. LOL. In the meantime, I’ve been talking to Marlowe about it. I’ve been telling her that in elementary school, nobody brings their lovey or sucks their thumb in class, and that the day is coming when she’ll have to bring her thumb sucking to a close. She says she knows, and that when she’s ten she’s going to stop. LOL. I told her for orthodontic reasons she probably has to stop before that.
We agreed that this summer, we are going to keep her lovey in her room all day, and that lovey will ONLY come out at bedtime. She seems ok with that transition, and I’m planning to start there and see how it goes. I don’t know if taking the lovey away completely is the way to curb the habit, or if it’s more a painting-the-nail approach and letting lovey stay as a comforting friend. The whole thing is confusing for sure. I’m just trying to respectfully figure out a system that works for both of us, and that leaves her feeling empowered and not traumatized. I mean after all, if you ever saw photos of Kyle and I before braces, you’d know the poor girl is getting metal in her mouth no matter what, probably. Ha!
I would love to hear your experiences with your own thumbsuckers, if you feel so inclined to share!
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Photographs by Julia Dags.
My daughter is almost the exact same age AND has the same lovey AND is also a thumb sucker! I actually noticed the lovey in a post a couple years ago but forgot about that until this post. It’s strange to me people are worried about your daughter sucking her thumb. Every thbsucker i know has done so until some time in elementary school. I’m not worried about them. They will stop when they are ready. And in exchange for potentially more orthodontia in the future i was blessed with a great sleeper and a child who had the ability to self soothe.
I’m so happy you wrote about this. When my first daughter was born I read that pacifiers could cause nipple confusion and I was already having enough issues with nursing. When she was a couple of months old she started sucking her thumb and everyone around me told me that it was great she was learning to self-sooth but I panicked. I did everything to try to get her to stop. I offered her a pacifier, but she wasn’t interested. I would take her thumb out of her mouth and she would put it right back in. I even put those baby mittens on her but she would suck on them until they were soaked. Finally, during one of my dentist appointments I asked about it and my dentist wasn’t concerned, he said it’s important she stops by the time she’s school aged. So we let her have her thumb and when she was about 2 1/2 we started talking to her about how big kids don’t suck their thumb and how it’s not good for her mouth. We didn’t force her to stop, but we would commend her whenever she wasn’t sucking her thumb. She is 3 1/2 now and she’s reduced her thumbsucking considerably. In fact, now that I think about it I can’t remember the last time I saw her sucking her thumb.
I couldn’t turn 6 OR go to kindergarten if I didn’t stop sucking my thumb. ALL my friends would turn 6, they’d go to kindergarten, and I’d be stuck as a lonely 5 year old, unless I stopped. So I stopped! Haha
I can relate so much to this post. My son never took to a pacifier – just his thumb. So needless to say he was a thumbsucker for way too long – almost 6 years old! (Ack I know). Our pediatrician told us not to worry and that most kids stop on their own. But once he turned 6 we realized it had to stop. They sell a clear nail polish that has a bitter taste to it that you can try. My son, however, sucked it off and then continued sucking his thumb. We ordered another kind off of Amazon that lasted on the nails for a couple days – that actually worked and he hasnt sucked his thumb since!
Hope this helps – hang in there!!!
Do you know the brand name ?
I babysat a sweet little thumbsucker who really wanted her ears pierced. Once she gave up her thumbsucking was when she was allowed to get her ears pierced- she had total control and felt so proud of herself when she finally did give it up and received her very anticipated prize! Not sure it would work for everyone, but it did for her.
Eva, I was a thumb sucker until I
was almost twelve years old. It wasn’t something that I did in public, only at night. My parents tried everything to get me to stop for a fear that I would need braces. They went as far a hot sauce on my thumbs and socks over my hands.lol! I would suck that hot sauce right off. What I am trying to say is that she will be just fine. Oh and I never needed braces only a retainer. My oldest child loved her pacifier and my youngest was like Mayor and didn’t care for either. It’s so interesting how children can be so different. They both turned out to be beautiful young ladies.
Love your response! This is so not a serious matter but my goodness you can see from just the responses here how serious some people make it out to be. I definitely think this is a strong case for letting children be little. Big hugs!
I was such a thumbsucker growing up. However, it only happened when I was tired (bedtime or pre-nap). My mom, dad, and siblings tried EVERYTHING to get me to stop. I did not have speech delays, but I was “old enough” to give it up. None of their tactics worked. Maybe it was me being stubborn, but I think I just got over it on my own. You could probably fade it out slowly to a point where you don’t mention it before she goes to bed to see if she even requests it. It doesn’t last forever, I promise.
I was a thumbsucker growing up. It was very hard for my parents to get me to stop. I did suck my thumb until I was 10, but I knew not to do it in front of my friends and at school. I stopped on my own. I am headstrong, so it had to be my choice.
I also have a 4 year old thumb sucker and I’m also not concerned. Our dentist says her teeth are fine at this point. I was a long term thumb sucker myself (possibly until 8?! Can’t really remember but quite old). My teeth were fine and I never needed braces. I suspect I stopped not because ofmy parents intervention but likely because none of my friends did so at school. Peer influence is a powerful thing even at younger ages. I don’t feel you have anything to worry about. Marlowe (and my daughter) will figure it out eventually ?.
I once dated a guy in my earlier twenties that was 10 years older than I. I slept over at his house one night and woke up to use the bathroom. When I came back to bed I noticed he was sucking his thumb in his sleep. I had never in my life (still to this day and I’m almost 40) seen something like this! I woke him to tell him what he was doing and asked him why??? He said he didn’t know why but I’m sure he was probably a thumb sucker growing up. Needless to say that relationship didn’t work out but still a hilarious story!
One of my step children is a thumb sucker. Like Marlowe mainly in rest times; watching movies and long car rides, or when she’s upset. She’s fully aware of the damage she’s doing to her teeth and is aware of the stigma being she almost a teenager. Yet, she struggles to correct the habit. I don’t know what intervention was used early on, since she is my step child. But, I have a similar mental debate, it makes her feel better and it’s a relatively harmless coping mechanism compared to what some children resort to! Yet, it is going to only get harder to stop the longer it goes on. I was relived to find the othadontist sees many children secretly thumb suck at night and parents are unaware, not to mention there are a ton of corrective methods they can employ at that stage. Overall, I’ve adapted a “it could be worse” mentality, pasified in large by her understanding of the consequences.
Firstly I want to say, you know your daughter and what is best for her.
I myself was a thumb sucker right up until the age of 10. From conversations with my mum I started with a dummy (Australian for paci) but quickly didn’t like it, and when my twin brother and sister came along just under 2 years later it became more of a security for me. I would do it when I was tired, I would fall asleep doing it. I also needed to hold something in my other hand that was cool/childish, whether it was my cool ear or a blanket that has silky edges that were cool.
So I am talking some 35 years ago now and my parents tried everything from putting things on my hands (gloves) or bad tasting drops to turn me off. None of it worked until I just stopped one day.
I believe my front teeth sit more forward than they should.
What you are doing sounds like a great step forward to helping Marlowe.
I could have written this myself (because it hits so close to home!). My almost 4 year old is a thumb sucker as well, but only with his trustee Moose stuffy jammed against his face.
People always tell me he’s too old.. and like you, I’m just thrilled he is able to self soothe. His teeth & speech are fine, although he does have a callus on his thumb. I’ve also been talking to him about being in JK and quitting his habit. His reply was “I know I have to stop mom, I just don’t want to!” OK then.
He started proactively leaving his moose in his room knowing he won’t suck his thimb without it! Bonus! I’m hoping he grows out of it on his own but I’ll be keeping an eye on your tricks with Marlowe just in case!
My daughter is/was a thumbsucker too. She’s almost 8 now and pretty much gave it up on her own. I would say over time she just decreased how often it was happening…like by about 5 it was only when she was falling asleep at night (not through anything we did, she just started needing it less) and it got to be less and less as she got older. I would say by about 6.5 she was done with it. Our dentist told us not to worry about it unless it was still a problem around 6 years of age – so I wouldn’t stress about it yet! She still sleeps with her lovey at night (which she had while thumb sucking) but the thumb stays out now 🙂
Thank you so much for sharing this! I have a 13 month old thumbsucker and have been shamed for it so much. A nurse at his pediatrician told me that he must be doing it because daycare doesn’t pay enough attention to it since it started there since he couldn’t have the pacifier clipped to him like he did at home.
I wish I had gotten the advice about the lovey, but we were so scared of letting him sleep with anything that now he has nothing and doesn’t seem to want to attach to anything other than balloons…Which he holds onto and drags everywhere. He literally wakes up asking for the balloon. Oh kids…
Thank you for this!!! This morning my daughter who is 16 months kept her thumb in her mouth the whole car ride even when I tried to sing with her or talk to her. I have been definitely thinking about ways I can approach this in the future and even now. I was a thumb sucker so I am really hoping she doesn’t get my habit for as long as I did. Thank you for sharing and such good advice. ❤️
She will be fine, I sucked my thumb until I was 10, lol. But also only at bedtimes. I used to hide it from my friends during sleepovers. My mom and aunt tried everything to make me stop, you could try the nasty nail polish that dentists sell. But my teeth are fine and I never even needed braces. ?
Thank you for this! My daughter is three and sucks her thumb when we snuggle or she just needs some extra comfort. Like you, I’m not worried about it but know that at some point we have some work to do. Always nice to know I’m not alone!
I’ve been a thumb sucker for a long time, can’t remember how far into childhood, but I will say this: if I’m upset or sick I will suck my thumb at 32 years with no shame! LOL. I guess my parents explained the same that big kids don’t do that in public and I didn’t but I can’t see the harm if she needs the comfort.
While I never sucked my thumb growing up, I did have other issues during adult life that were hard to cut cold turkey. Many a time, it could be a result of emotional stress, anxiety, neurological disorders, or physiological deficiencies.
In order to determine which? It’s important to analyze the patterns and see if anything else surrounds them. Absence during the fit, or other repetitive patterns.
I don’t worry too much about it.
sometimes it’s something very simple that resolves eventually once a child starts socialiazing with other children who participate in the habit. Eventually a child will realize that it’s not something they wanna be seen doing and will force themeselves to stop. School is never easy.
I’d keep an eye on other stuff surrounding it, and try to replace it w a reward system that’s helpful for the development of the child. Each time the child doesn’t suck his/her thumb they earn a new book, or learning tool such as dvd/game etc
Talk to your pediatrician about testing for any deficiencies, iron, magnesium, etc.
Best of luck
My daughter is also 4 and still thumb sucks at night and if she’s sleepy/hurt/etc. She doesn’t in public because she only will if she’s wearing PJs. She holds onto the neckline of her PJs like a lovey. I’m not concerned with it. Her dentist isn’t concerned so I’m not either. I know she won’t do it forever, but I am a little nervous about how I will get her to stop when the time comes. Right now, if it makes her feel better, I say let her do it.
I love this ! As moms we can take on other worries because other parents have them and find ourselves overwhelmed in worry when it’s not even our own ?! One of my sons bites his nails at night and it’s totally and oral fixation thing. I’m not worried while I think it’s gross his hands are clean when he goes to bed + it’s less nails for me to clip ?. You could always tell her when she looses her first tooth she has to stop so her thumb doesn’t get stuck ? kidding.
My daughter did this and people would scold her with a big “NO” or would shake their heads while maintaining intense eye contact if she did it it public. Which bothered me. But I guess she learned not to do it in public. I always told her when she is ready she will stop.
She’s ten, and about a year ago or more she gave it up.
Only thing she still love to take to bed I’d her blanky. (it’s completely in shreds)
Great post! My son is almost two and since he was a newborn always used a small burp cloth to soothe himself to sleep. No lovey or pacifier, go figure. Just these Burt’s Bees burp clothes. Anyway, I think the same thing – when do I take it away? We only use it at bedtime or on long drives…but eventually he will need to learn how to fall asleep without it. Would love an update post after you get through the summer to see what worked…or didn’t. Good luck!
I also came out of the womb sucking my thumb and didn’t stop until I was 9-10. My parents tried EVERYTHING…including a nasty tasting nail polish to discourage sucking my thumb, which I still distinctly remember (I’m 32 now??♀️).
I finally stopped on my own when I started having sleepovers and felt embarrassed for having a blanky and sucking my thumb. I did have an overbite that needed to be corrected…headgear at night?It’s a hard habit to break but she will stop when she’s ready..Good luck!
What a great article. My baby boy, 3 ok not so baby anymore (sobs) used a pacifier until basically two months ago, he loved it. Like Marlowe, only to sleep and when in distress. But then he had an accident and basically almost broke a tooth. The tooth thank God survived, but the dentist said pacifier must go. And we expliained and took it cold turkey, he could have his lovely, but no pacifier. And it worked really good, no tears, which is a win in this house. Odly the lovely isnt required anymore, i think they were conected. I think they’re really more mature than we know and they keep little habits because we let them.
Now, my boy has his fathers teeth, so i was resigned to braces, but the doctor said there was no need to wait until elementary school, she could fix this bite and teeth now and hopefully when the real teeth move in they’ll be in the right place. Fingers crossed 😛
My son sucked his index finger. Since birth. We had to stop his finger sucking at 3 years old because the dentist was very worried about his front teeth. And we tried everything and the only thing that worked was painting bitters on his nails. He was sad the first 3 days but after that it was a habit and he did not need his finger to sooth anymore. Lucky for us his teeth were not affected and the front teeth that dit push forward went right back were they were.
I am 100% in favor of loveys or transitional objects! I learned the hard way when my daughter sucked her blanket. Her well meaning dentist said to take it away because of her teeth. Years later when she was having some separation issues a very wise doctor told me if I still had her blankets, to give them back to her. She said they were never mine to take. I did that and that was her turning point! She is now a very strong secure Mom of three daughters! Needless to say my son who came 9 years later had his bottle until he gave it up on his own! All my grandbabies have or had loveys (some thumb suckers)! Transitional objects serve a purpose! Some children need these longer than others. Way to go Marlowe and Mom!
I was a thumb sucker as a kid and my teeth are perfect and I’ve never had braces. I would classify this under “don’t fret, your child will grow out of it.” I remember being in kindergarten nap time and feeling embarrassed and I stopped right then and there. Sometimes I think the more we push our kids to do or not do something, the more they resist. I wouldn’t worry about this one and I’m surprised to hear you get some much feedback about it.
I’m dealing with something similar, but instead of thumb sucking it’s a pacifier. My son is 2.5 and wants to have the pacifier pretty much 24/7. He would if he could. He’s the only kid his age who has one when we go out places, and I’ve definitely gotten some looks and comments before. He’s very advanced from a speech perspective so we aren’t worried about that, but I know it’s something we have to curb ASAP. It’s just so hard! It’s his source of security and comfort. I have no advice but will be curious to know what works for you guys. Good luck!
I sucked my thumb until I was 5. I’m 53 now, and I still remember how comforting it was. My father hated it, and made a huge deal out of it, which made it worse. He also traveled all the time and once, before a 3 week trip, he promised me that if I didn’t suck my thumb the entire time he was gone, I could have a kitten – not one slip up. So, I sat on my hands during the day and put my them under the pillow at night and I got my cat. <3
My daughter sucked her thumb until last year. It was frustrating because like you, we spoke to the dentist about it and they told us not to worry and that most kids stop on their own once they start kindergarten, but that didn’t stop strangers from lecturing me about it in public! Unfortunately that wasn’t the case for her and in the fall of 2017 the hygienist recommend we get an anti-thumb sucking guard to wear on her hands. The idea was if she wore them non-stop for three weeks it would break the habit, so over winter break and the first week back at school that year we kept it on her, and it worked! For a while. Unfortunately after a few months she went back to sucking her thumb and this time we could not get her to stop! We tried using the same guards again but she was strong and wily enough that not matter how tight we fastened them she was able to pull them off- even in her sleep! She managed to break them multiple times. We tried buying different kinds of guards but none of them worked (the ones we tried: Dr Thumb, Thumbusters, and some random no-name ones we found on amazon). We also tried to keep her more engaged with physically play & activities as she typically sucked her thumb during passive activities (watching tv, being read to) but this wasn’t possible 24/7 and she also sucked at night. This went on for most of the year and her teeth were starting to be affected. The next step would have been having a dental appliance installed so in desperation I ordered a roller of some foul-tasting anti-nail biting liquid, and in the end that was what worked. It took about two nights to completely break her thumbsucking habit. In hindsight I wish we had started with a thumb guard when she was younger to help break the habit when she slept without this step, and I would NEVER use the foul-tasting liquid with a younger child like a toddler or even a preschooler; my daughter was almost six and could easily understand what and why we were doing.
So interesting. I had no intention of using a pacifier, not for any reason other than first time mom notions! (Haha) but my daughter was a month early and was in the nicu for a few days, and that was that. She bonded with the pacifier. Lol. And then she refused any paci, except the infant ones, so we limited it to bedtime before getting rid of it completely. I always wished ahe would find her thumb for that reason, but it is so strange because now (she is about to be 4) whenever she is feeling anxious or shy, she does shove her fingers in her mouth! Not to suck, but it is facinating how those oral fixations can soothe them!
I was a finger soccer myself, and my three-year-old daughter is a thumbsucker. I recall as a child, my mother saying five-year-olds do not suck their thumb during the day. I had a blanket that was a security guard. As I grew older I get more attached to the blanket than finger sucking. I believe that with my daughter, it comes with time. I am not pushing anything until we get closer to school aged. You have a great approach, and I think is Marlo start school space she will begin to understand how thumbsucking is not a part of every day life and may continue to only do it at rest time. Thank you so much for writing a blog on this as I know I’ve alreayd dreaded the no more thin sucking convo.
Thanks so much for this blog post! I have a 9 month old daughter who is a thumbsucker. When she was a newborn she did take a paci some of the time, but over time she started to prefer her thumb. I’m happy in the sense that she can self soothe, but also worried she will be a thumbsucker forever and we won’t be able to break her of the habit. She only used to suck her thumb for sleeping but now she will do it more throughout the day especially when she is tired. I will definitely be trying the lovey trick! I need to order her one to use. Did you give Marlowe her lovey in her crib as well (at this age)?
Great post, again.
So, I`m currently expecting my first child this spring and I`m worried–full stop, about everything. I keep getting conflicting bits of advice on whether to purchase lovey`s/pacifiers because then my baby will rely on them for comfort. I`m choosing to just go with what works/go with the flow.
For Marlow, can you replace that comfort she associates with thumb-suckingwith something else-something Marlowe really likes that makes her feel safe?
I think, if I may be so bold, one option may be to change out/replace the lovey/thumb-sucking/pacifier with mommy-and-me talks or perhaps mommy-and-me yoga? Just a few thoughts/ideas.
Obviously do what you think is right for your family, as every family is different and every child is different.
My daughter sucked her thumb until she was about 3 1/2. (At this point it was only to sleep- bedtime and naptime) We could tell it was causing speech delays and causing her teeth to buck. We decided it was best to go cold turkey- so I got that nail polish that tastes gross from amazon – Mavala. We had a talk about how she was a big girl now, and that she needed to stop before she went to school and I painted her nail that first night. She tried putting her thumb in her mouth, realized it tasted bad and told me “that’s yucky” and literally never sucked her thumb again. It was a freaking miracle. I never even repainted the thumb after that first time. My son sucks his thumb to fall asleep as well, and I know the time will come that he’ll need to stop too – and seeing as he’s 100% the opposite of her, I know he won’t make it easy on me! I’ll cross that bridge when I get there lol
Eva, have you ever heard of the myobrace? It is not quite an alternative to braces but you begin using a brace at Marlowe’s age and hopefully avoid braces. It seems more popular overseas. ?
My daughter is 3 and sucks her thumb. I dont worry about it at all. If it helps her when shes scared or upset I’m completely fine with it.
I sucked my thumb till I was 10 and I’m ok. So I dont worry at all about it
My son just tuned 8 and if he falls into a deep sleep he will start sucking his thumb out of habit so we got his a fabric thumb guard to wear at night. He was a tumbsucker from a young age but stopped doing it as frequently once he started kindergarten. After that, he would only suck his thumb when feeling tired or nervous (e.g new social siutation). Like Marlow, we gave him a lovey (small scrap of blanket) and to try limit the thumbsucking but it didn’t work as well for us. Unfortuently, my son does have some damage to his teeth from thumbucking so long and may need to get braces when he is older. In the end, I am glad he found his thumb as he literally didn’t sleep the first 6 months of his life! I wish my youngest (5months) would find his thumb! As anxious as I was about it, I tried never to put too much pressure on my son to stop thumbsucking a as I didn’t want it to become a control issue. I let him come up with ideas of how he could stop/limit his thumbsucking and never made him the habit was “babyish” etc. I received a lot of comments and advice from “concerned” strangers and family- I would just do what is bestfor Marlow, she will help let you know when she is ready to stop.
I was a thumb sucker until the age of 8! I remember my parents encouraging me to stop, but never pressured me. I think they realized that since it was attached to my body it ultimately came down to my own desire and will power to stop. Which for me didn’t really come until 2nd grade when I started to go to sleepovers and felt a little embarrassed. I did have braces but probably would have either way! I agree don’t stress! Good luck!
I think we have the same kid – except mine is 17 now ? Lexi found her thumb at 3 months and it was like the heavens opened up and the sleep gods shined down on us! We didn’t purposely do the lovey trick but inadvertently she had “pink blankie” and it was the same concept. Like Marlowe she only thumb sucked with her pink blankie and usually only at bedtime or while watching tv. We were fortunate she only did it at home. I was crazy at the thought of potentially losing pink blankie so it never left the house (except on overnight trips) so her thumb sucking was limited. At one point around age 5 – by this age she only did it when she fell asleep at night – I started to get concerned but similarly our dentist had no idea she was a thumbsucker until I told her. Lexi eventually weaned herself around 9. Looking back now I even think “wow that’s kind of old” but at the time it was such a non issue that I honestly don’t even remember specifically when it happened. Let them be little ❤️ And yes, with my second one I tried to “make” her a thumbsucker too and she wanted NO part of it! ?
While I am not a parent yet, I remember my grandmother telling me a story about how my Mom (her daughter) used to suck her thumb all the time and it drove her crazy. Around 5 or 6 though my Mom got an “owie” near her thumb and so my grandma played it up and said she would need a bandaid on her thumb and walla! Apparently she never sucked either thumb again!
My middle sister sucked her thumb for years and was the only one of us 3 girls that DIDN’T need braces so you might be doing Marlowe (and your wallet) a favor by letting her keep it up! Everyone’s different!
My little guy, now 7, randomly became a thumb sucker at 1 year old. Before then, he didn’t need anything, not even a paci. I was a thumbsucker as a kid, up until I was in the 4th grade. At that age, I only did it at night. So when my little guy started sucking his thumb, I was totally okay with it – given that I understood how comforting it could be. Now, I never needed braces, so I really wasn’t concerned until his dentist said it was becoming a problem around 5 years old. (His birthday is late, so he was still in Transitional Kinder.) So I tried to slowly break the habit before he went to Kindergarten, with absolutely no luck. His teeth started to stick out and get crazy. The summer before he went into Kindergarten he had a thumb sucking appliance put in his mouth. It was such a bummer and he didn’t like it. After a few days he was used to it, and it kept him from successfully sucking his thumb, but believe me he tried. It took 8 months of wearing the appliance before I felt like he wouldn’t try if it was gone. Once we had it removed, he seemed fine. About a month after that, he started chewing on the neck of his shirts. He clearly had some time of oral fixation or need. After several weeks and ruining several shirts, I found a website that sold chew necklaces for special needs kids or chewing habits. He chewed through 3 necklaces (about one a month) before suddenly stopping everything. He just up and stopped chewing or sucking on anything. His pediatrician says he “outgrew” the need. Thankfully, his teeth returned to their normal position and everything is fine – except for his speech. No one knows if he would/wouldn’t have had this “r” articulation if he hadn’t been a thumbsucker. But he has qualified for speech services and is improving all the time. Looking back, would I do it the same way? YES! He slept like a dream, was able to comfort himself, and everything that has been an issues can be treated or helped. In the end, it was worth it!
My oldest is a 4 year old thumb sucker, she doesnt have a lovey but when she sucks her thumb she twirls her hair lol. She only does this when she is falling asleep or tired and once shes asleep the thumb is out. She is doing it less and less and I notice now that shes not really sucking its just in her mouth lol. Her dentist isnt concerned and neither are we she will eventually grow out of it. I have noticed her wanting her nails painted i was nervous but when I explained ahe cannot suck her thumb is was ok and actually wont suck it when her nails are done- i catch her put it to her lips then catches herself! It will pass and they will out grow it – i consider us lucky that she isnt a thumb sucker 24/7!!! Funny for us our second daughter never wanted her thumb or anything weird huh?!?
I was a thumb sucker! My mom tried everything to get me to stop hot sauce, nail polish, taking my blankie away and nothing would stop me. I think by her pushing me so hard to stop it made me not want to, so I continued until I was in elementary school. I think what eventually made me stop during those years were sleepovers at friend’s houses – it was no longer cool to have a blankie or to suck your thumb. She will stop when she is ready and by you preparing her and talking about it with her instead of pushing her to stop I think is a great approach.
My sister and I both sucked our thumbs for, like, FOREVER. I think I stopped when I was maybe eight or nine? We both turned out fine and neither of us wound up with any orthodontic problems because of it.
Now that I’m a mom, I’ve noticed that there are about 1,000,000 things people say you should worry about. But, really, as long as she’s happy, well-adjusted, and healthy, you’re doing great!
My daughter sucked her thumb with the added bonus of twirling her hair at the crown as she sucked. She was a baby that lost all of her hair after birth and it took forever to grow in. She initially would just rub the spot as she sucked her thumb. Then it moved to twirling her hair. By the time she gained a few inches of hair she started wrapping it and pulling as she sucked. She never took a paci, but she loved her thumb from the beginning. So she would start to suck her thumb and pull her hair at the same time to soothe herself. Hello giant bald spot.
I decided to tackle the thumb and then the hair and used the nail polish bad tasting stuff. We had a couple of weeks of putting it on with serious drooling. (I wore it too in solidarity and to see how bad it was – it was bad.) Magically, she stopped sucking and the twirling. Her hair has grown in and now she has a weird cowlick, but we got past it and her hair grew back.
It was one of the only transitions that went pretty easy.
Honestly….I was a thumb sucker. I sucked it only at home and well into my school years. Lol….truth be told, I have two thumbs that are not the same shape. One is noticably longer and more flat. I also had braces and jaw surgery to fix the damage and am a dental hygienist! I have two children neither of whom have sucked their thumbs. If they did I think I would have likely tried to stop it as soon as possible.
Thank you for this 🙂 every child is different and we as adults sometimes forget or don’t remember the things we did as childen that we eventually grew out of. Mom shaming really bothers me and while there should be space to share experiences, tips and tricks, making someone feel bad for taking their own approach to their own childrens needs is unfair. Good for you for not letting others opinions put a wrench in the cogs of your parenting style!
I’m 34 years old , don’t worry I’m not going to say… and I’m a thumb sucker ?, however I was a thumb sucker and my mum tells me that I finally stopped when I was 9 years old, when school time came I never sucked my thumb in class, but up till I was 9 if I was tired the thumb would instantly be in my mouth and I had a lovey , well we called it a blanket here in england, with silky edges I would twiddle between my fingers. I’ve never had to have braces,
Although even now when I’m tired I don’t suck my thumb but I do find myself opening the wardrobe and having a quick twiddle on my husbands ties ?? it’s just a comfort thing. Always will be.
Don’t worry Marlowe will just grow out of it on her own, I’m really sure it won’t be traumatic for her at all
I’ve noticed her adorable lovey but always thought she was just smelling it and never realized she was sucking her thumb. My 4 year old son finds comfort in smelling his lovey. I was the same way at his age with my stuffed Snoopy that I took everywhere. I even snuck him to school in my backpack up until 3rd grade…the same time I stopped sucking my thumb. And the good news is I never needed braces! My teeth went back into place after I stopped even at that age.
My son is 1 1/2 and came out sucking his two fingers! Never took a pacifier but still loves those two fingers. I’m thankful he has something to use as a comfort that he can’t lose. And as he’s gotten older, he does it less. I think I’ll try to let him phase it out as much as possible.
Proud Mama of a thumbsucker here too!! Same thing, her dentist and her pediatrician aren’t concerned. She only sucks her thumb when she’s upset or anxious and always has her monkey when she does. Eventually I may start intervening but now, I’ll just let her be her.
My son sucked his thumb until 6ish! It was horrifying for me cause his dentist would tell me that is not good for his teeth… I tried a nail polish that taste pretty bad for hainthat sucked their thunb and that didn’t help… so one day at his dentist app they told me about a thumb sucking device that goes on the top of his palate, I agreed to do it and it was the best thing ever! After I think a week, the thing felt out and he stopped sucking his thumb for good! After so many years lol
I was my sons’s pacifier/lovey day and night for almost 3.5 years and although I don’t regret breastfeeding for that long, it definitely would have been nice if he had found a way to self soothe like thumb-sucking. But what we did worked for us, just like Marlowe’s thumb-sucking works for her and you. Pretty sure they’ll both be fine because they both have supportive, loving parents!
I was a thumbsucker until the age of 12! I eventually grew out of the phase of needing it to self-soothe around elementary school and would only suck at nighttime. My dad is a dentist so he monitored it but never worried that much, although my parents tried EVERYTHING to get me to stop; gross tasting polish, tape on my hands, etc. I just sucked my thumb anyway, haha. I eventually stopped for good the second I got braces. There no longer was enough room for braces and my thumb! I hope you all don’t have to wait as long, but as a 35 yr old reformed thumb sucker, I will say she’ll be fine in the long run 🙂
My little sister was a BIG thumb sucker, and had an obsession with silk- so anything silky became her lovey, in addition to the blanket she already had. Unfortunately, my sister did have problems. She would suck her thumb so hard and often that it would cause the thumb to get infected (don’t ask me how, I was a little kid, too, and don’t remember anything except watching my parents have to squeeze the infection out and wrap her thumb- aka tears all around). My parents went through several different methods to try and get her to stop before it eventually stuck. Conversely, my nephew, now 6, still sucks his thumb when he is very tired or zoned out, and has had zero issues speech wise, or dental related. He also didn’t have issues stopping while he was at school- I hope that transition goes well for you all!
As a first time mom as of June 2018, I can tell you my experience was pretty easy going. We were told to give our son 2 weeks to figure out breastfeeding before we started using the pacifier. I waited one, because he was already obviously oral fixated and it helped him calm down; after we started using it, he hardly ever fussed much, and still ate like a champ (and we didn’t have to leave the pacifier in all day either). We don’t limit when he has it, and he will willingly take it out and play with other things. He can also put it in his own mouth if he chooses, which has been extremely helpful. I worked at a daycare for 4 years as well, and never had issues transitioning a child away from their pacifiers if I used a slow and steady approach. I’ve heard all the stories too, and my only advice is to watch YOUR baby and make your own decision based on what their behavior is telling you to do. Those Mommy instincts are going to be your friend, you’ll know what to do! Good luck and congratulations!
Marlowe is just fine & will decide when she chooses to no longer suck her thumb. As a Mother of a child that was soothed by sucking their thumb & never sucked 5heir thumb in school. I can honestly say all will be fine. Can’t help but think of the video you posted of Marlowe deciding she will no longer poop in the pants. Marlowe gets it & will stop sucking her thumb when she is ready…follow her lead.
I was a thumb sucker when I was young also. I had a green waffle blanket and I would hold on to the tag and suck my thumb at the same time, similar to her lovey. My parents told me that I had to give my blanket to a little baby that needed it, and once they “gave it away” (I found it in the linen closet when I was like 8!) I completely stopped sucking my thumb as well. Maybe if she didn’t have her lovey anymore, she wouldn’t be inclined to suck her thumb. Anyway, she’s not going to walk down the aisle at her wedding sucking her thumb so I get why you’re not worrying!
My 6 year old is a thumb sucker, has been since she was in the womb. I spoke with my pediatrician about it when she was about 3 and he said not to worry, she would stop on her own. My husband and I listened and trusted what he said. About one year later, one of my daughter’s grandparents saw her suck her thumb and gave her a hard time about it (which I did not know at the time). She stopped cold turkey that day (to my surprise) and told me only babies sucked their thumb. Over the next few weeks, a few tiny little scabs and bleeding spots popped up on her arms but she was in preschool so I thought it had to do with just playing outside a lot. Then one day she came out of her room from the night and she had a big square on her nose where she had picked off all her skin and it was bleeding like crazy. Turns out she had been doing it to herself, needless to say, I was extremely upset that it had happened. I brought her to the pediatrician the next day and we talked for a long time about it. He said she exhibits ocd tendiencies and trying to stop sucking her thumb pushed her into another ocd habit (skin picking) and that he had read studies that thumb sucking could be considered ocd. Anyway, he and I had a talk with her in the office and told her it was ok to suck her thumb and she could do it as long as she wanted. She is in first grade now and only pops her thumb in her mouth for a second before she sleeps. She hasn’t ever picked at herself again and doesn’t exhibit any more ocd tendencies for now. I know not every child is the same and she is a more exaggerated case than most but my point is, a lot of times thumb sucking can do more good than harm.
My son was a night-time thumb sucker until 9. We tried everything! His palate was so misshapen and he needed a palate expander and braces. He continued to suck his thumb at night even with the mouth gear. He also has a blankie and some comfort stuffed animals. I read an article that said the kiddos often struggle with the thumb sucking the the older they get in part because it’s associated with that comfort item. Once he turned 9 and we were told the braces were coming off, I knew we had to get serious or we’d mess up the pretty teeth we just spend years and thousands of dollars fixing. We bought a wrist guard that covered his thumb for him to wear at night and we took away all comfort items. We felt horrible but also a little desperate. Once we knew he was no longer thumb sucking, we gave him back his lovies and took off the brace. It took almost two months before we were able to give it back and go without the brace. We chose the summer time when school was out and I was home with them to do it. The first few nights were awful for him. He couldn’t fall asleep or stay asleep but we pushed forward. It was worth it in the end, I only regret not taking away the lovies sooner, but honestly I didn’t even think of that until I started researching. It’s been 5 months and he is still habit-free! Marlowe is still young and you have a great plan to start! No two kiddos will follow the same path but do what works best for your family and know she will stop one day! Best of luck?
Hello! I am 22 years old and about to graduate college in May. Although I never sucked my thumb, I do still sleep with my childhood blanket. I have lived a pretty cushy life but have experienced multiple moves and different challenging experiences that have caused me aniexty and fear that I am only now unearthing. As a kid I hated going to sleepovers and later found out it was due to separation aniexty from when I was a baby and put in daycare for long periods of the day. I find deep comfort in an object that I know I can always count on. I know my parents attempted to take it away many times but would eventually give it back. I am grateful that my parents never fully took it away because I think in some weird way it would have caused me more deep rooted issues. I also know many other friends who still sleep with a lovey. I truly think that if your daughter still wants to keep it for sleeping that is completely appropriate and she will either grow out of it or continue to find comfort in it in her 20s!!
P.S. If you are worried about her dating life, I have been with my boyfriend for four years and he has no issue with it 😉
As a 28 year old, I also have a blanket from childhood that I still sleep with every night. I had divorced parents growing up and it was the one constant I could take between houses. It just also happened to make its way to college….and is still with me and husband in our bed (he never remarked negatively about it, and in fact, when I’ve had to get up early/leave for periods of time, it somehow ends up close to him because it smells like me).
While the blanket never caused worry of physical harm, there was always the social embarrassment attached (my mother always said no man would marry me with it – HA! proved that wrong). However, it’s always been something that is personal to me and has been with me through everything. Even now, it’s smell and touch provide a calmness that nothing else really can, considering it’s an inanimate object.
I know thumb sucking is a bit more than just a blanket, but I hope you and Marlowe are able to find a good compromise on something that brings her comfort and eases any worry for you that whatever it is will have lasting effects.
And as a first time mom to a 10 month old, I so appreciate the perspective! Especially since the premom/postmom thought difference is VERY REAL!
I’m 32 and sleep with my childhood bear still! LOL. He’s worse for wear…but I’ll never give him up.
Hi, I am glad that you consulted with your dentist and he determined there was nothing structurally wrong with her teeth! As a speech-language pathologist, I thought I’d share a different perspective as to why we try to encourage cutting the habit as early as possible. Continuous thumb sucking can impact the way a child’s palate is formed, causing an “imprint” in the hard palate, or narrow vaulted palate. This can impact the positioning of the tongue at rest in the mouth, sometimes causing tongue thrust. Tongue thrust can impact a variety of sounds (interdental lisp) and sometimes swallowing/feeding. Now I’m not a parent and have no idea what I’ll end up doing when/if my child is a thumb sucker. Just thought I’d provide a different perspective since a lot of other comments only mentioned the dentist’s opinion. Hope this information is helpful!
We stopped at four. Mine was a hair twirling/thumb sucker. I was always more concerned about the twirling because she had a little bald patch. Leading up to it we would talk about how she was feeling when she was sucking her thumb. We did band aids on her thumbs and rewarded her for a week, a month etc. now it’s hard to believe she ever was a thumb sucker.
My sister sucked her thumb ( way back in the 70’s) and my mother said she had to stop by the time she went to kindergarten. I think she put nail polish or something on her thumb to get her to stop.
I “sucked” held my thumb in my mouth with a stinky blanket until I was about 11. Between 8 and 10 I remember becoming shameful of my habit and made sure to not get caught in the act by people who weren’t family. I also remember giving myself pep talks about trying to quit. Funny thing is I don’t remember when I stopped. I didn’t need braces but did have narrow palette that needed expansion. But I believe narrow palettes may be hereditary in my fanily. My kids were binky lovers. And of course I felt pressure to have them ditch it as they got older. But by the time my 3rd kid came I had learned a few things. They are only little for a very short amount of time. When you have teenagers you will look back and wish you could tell yourself that most of the stuff you worried about doesn’t matter. You’ll be wishing for thumbs, binkies and bottles too late instead of teenage hormones and all that comes with. I I guarantee she won’t go to high school sucking her thumb. And if she happens to, hey that’s better than smoking cigarettes or vaping whatever they’re doing these days! Let all the babies have all of the things that they love until they decide.
I sucked my thumb until I was about eight. I was very headstrong like your daughter. And although my parents tried to make me quit I didn’t listen. (they tried the Tabasco sauce trick. But I love spicy food so I looked it off and ask for more.) Until one day I decided that that was going to be the end. and I quit cold turkey. I will say this when I was her age I sucked a sore onto my thumb that my parents didn’t notice and had a horrible infection for a day or so. My parents had to take me to the hospital because I had red streaks on my arm. And my mom told me that story my entire life until she passed away. So my only advice is to let your headstrong daughter decide when it’s time to quit for serious because she won’t quit until she’s ready and to make sure she doesn’t get an infection. Haha. 😉
I sucked my thumb until I was 10! And same as Marlowe, I only did it when I had my blankey. On my 10th birthday I put my blankey in my mom’s cedar chest and that was it. Never sucked my thumb again. She’ll know when it’s time to stop. At a certain point my parents knew I was going to need braces in middle school and I NEVER did it in public so they just let me keep doing it until i was ready to stop. I turned out fine, am a functioning adult, and now have great teeth! I dont know why people are so worried about it.
First of all, you’re doing an amazing job with your kiddos!! I can’t believe we actually live in a day in age where people approach parents about what they think is best for their child (eye roll). It’s as if parenting alone isn’t stressful enough and we need other parents to give us their two cents (double eye roll…maybe a slight headache). Nevertheless, I firmly believe this whole thing is a phase. I grew up sucking my two middle fingers. Once I started Kindergarten and I realized other kids weren’t sucking their thumbs/fingers at school I didn’t either and would only do so at home, particularly in the evening once I started to get tired. My mom never pressured me to stop knowing full well I found it to be soothing. When I was ready to stop doing it entirely (third grade – ha!), I just decided to do it on my own. I’m so grateful my mom never made a big deal out of it. She knew I would stop when I was ready and when I was able to decide for myself it was my first little boost of self-confidence. Yes, maybe braces will be in Marlowe’s future but maybe not. The point is, at the end of the day you have two gorgeous, healthy children and a little lovey/thumb sucking is truly the least of all of our problems. Big hugs to you as you, the incredibly well equipped Mama, decide what’s best for your darling babies! 🙂
My 2 year old daughter is a thumb sucker and both my husband AND i were well into our elementary years ?. My daughter slept through the night at 2.5 months old because of that thumb and has rarely had any regressions etc. she also only sucks her thumb when she’s tired and/or bored. I would much rather her suck her thumb than have a paci, children usually don’t have speech issues with thumb sucking because they know they have to take the thumb out to speak whereas they keep the paci in to speak. I also think it’s the sweetest little thing ❤️
I was a thumb sucker! I sucked my thumb until I was…wait for it…9 years old! My dad was also a thumb sucker and we both turned out just fine 🙂 My parents never really seemed to care that I did, and I only ever did it at home. I think I was beginning to get a little older and wanted to stop so I got a special retainer put in that restricted me putting my thumb in my mouth, it was definitely cold turkey but I wasn’t traumatized because I think I wanted to do it myself anyways! My teeth were a little affected but I just got braces like every other kid and am just fine! My right thumb is a little longer than my left because I think I sucked it so much and stretched it out ??? but it’s a funny unique quality I like to share! Lol.
I understand your daughter! My thumb was my “best friend” until I was …10 years old. Only to fall asleep, never at school or in front of people! I had to stop at 10 because I had braces put on. My mouth is fine, just my teeth that were crooked. I had no choice to stop because I had an expander put on. I am 42 years old, and I can tell you, she will stop eventually ?. But , I still remember how comforting it was ?.
I was a thumbsucker until 3rd grade. Never did it in school, just at bedtime. My dad tried to get me to stop for forever but no one was going to tell when me what to do!!! My oldest, she’ll be 12 next month, stopped at 9 years old. First she gave up her lovey in January (but I still have it for a keepsake) and then in August, she stopped sucking her thumb. When she was ready, she asked me for help to stop. We just used a sock on her hand for 2-3 days and she stopped. I was never worried about because they will eventually stop. I wasn’t going to force her. She didn’t do it in public. I don’t see a problem with it. She has braces right now. But she never had buck teeth. Her lower jaw needed to move out and she has some spacing issues but I was never told that this was due to thumbsucking.
My daughter never used a paci or sucked her thumb. My son had a paci until he was 5, when he suddenly announced one day he would trade it for a Guinea pig. ??? He’s fine. The daughter ended up needing major orthodonture, the son needs a very minor ortho. You never know. If they need the thumb or paci, they need it. You know your child better than anyone and I promise, it will sort itself out. Time to find something else to fret over.
I sucked my thumb until I was 12! Around 10 my dentist put this spiky retainer on the roof of my mouth which only succeeded in putting holes in my thumb. I eventually stopped because I couldn’t get braces if I was still sucking my thumb and I REALLY wanted braces (obvs I was a weird kid). I stopped, got braces, and people compliment me on my teeth daily. Neither of my kids were thumb suckers.
My daughter had her paci until she was 4 1/2! Prior to parenthood I would of been a judgy Judy and “I can’t believe she let’s her 4 year old have a paci!”
But once you become a parent, you do what you gotta do! Once we said she could only have it at night with her “puppy” she just kind of stopped on her own.
I struggle from anxiety, so I totally got that she needed something to soothe her. And I was pretty confident she wasn’t going to show up at college with a paci and puppy in hand.
You seem to have it figured out.
I sucked my thumb and twirled my hair until MIDDLE SCHOOL. Had a very active and normal life but at night would revert back to the habit. Friends would notice my hair twirling during the day, but it was nothing that affected me. I quit cold- turkey when I had the opportunity to get braces. I’m 31 now, am mostly normal, and still twirl my hair when anxious. I say, let the girl live!
My son is almost 9 months and sucks his thumb. He started around 3 months and I was so ecstatic for the same reason you were. He can self soothe and it’s been great! I don’t worry about weaning him. I was a thumb sucker and remember doing it at bedtime and resting into elementary school, but never at school and eventually I just realized it was for babies and stopped.
Don’t know why people/strangers get so worked up over stuff like this!!
For the record, I sucked my thumb until I was 9 and I only stopped because I needed some orthodontics that made it too uncomfortable. Yes, I needed braces, but so many kids do whether they suck their thumb or not. I am a successful, fairly well-adjusted mother, wife, and psychologist and never experienced any bullying or social isolation because of my thumb sucking, so I have no regrets 🙂 Best of luck in this crazy journey of motherhood!
Great post! And great mama instinct that you’re not worried!
My oldest was a finger sucker (go figure…he sucked on his middle and ring fingers right from in the womb as well!) and dropped the habit before turning 3. Our families commented on it a lot, but like you, I was thrilled that he knew how to comfort himself! My youngest also sucks his fingers (index and middle) when he gets tired and when he’s sleeping. I’m not too worried about it either (he just turned 1), but I do hope that when the time comes he’s able to stop, just like his big bro!
Keep the topics that get everyone talking coming, Eva! I love it!
Both my sibling and I came out of the womb sucking our thumbs. Our mother never made us stop or took away our lovies as she felt that the world today makes kids grow up so fast she wanted us to have control over this. It didn’t impact our teeth in any way and neither of us needed any orthodontia that we wouldn’t have needed if we had never discovered our thumbs. We both sucked our thumbs well into high school at night, and our lovies went to college with us and still live in our respective homes.
To each their own I guess!
I don’t see what the big deal is about thumb sucking. I sucked away until I was really old, about 11 ish and then one day I stopped, my teeth are perfectly straight and I’m 29 and still keep my “lovey” in bed with me. I’m married and pregnant and still sleep with it and my therapist thinks its a-okay.
I have a 5.75yr old who still sucks her middle 2 fingers. She has done it since she was 9wks old, has always been an amazing sleeper (like AMAZING sleeper!), and I loved that she would soothe herself rather than be dependent on me or my husband. She also started to get “fetish-like” about it … sucking on fingers anytime she touched anything plush or soft. We started scaling back and making her more self aware of it when she was 4 and headed to preschool all day (mainly for germ spreading … not the toddler shaming for still needing her fingers). She was only sucking during naps, TV time, in the car. When she went to Kindergarten, she had severe anxiety (I did NOT see that coming). She started chewing on her hair or sucking on her clothes… it was rough. I realized we took away her coping tool at age 4 and she didn’t know how to deal. We got her some sensory necklaces, that she used for a few months … then stopped needing those.
She still sucks her fingers in the car, TV time, and in bed. We have started getting on her about it more again as she is losing her baby teeth and approaching age 6. I know she’ll end up with braces, but I’d like her to be conscious of her big girl teeth… the tooth fairy told her caring for them was a big responsibility. ?
She has always done everything when she was ready, and then she did it perfect. Late walker, late potty training, and she’ll be late to stop sucking her fingers. But she is amazing and sweet and thoughtful and has a smile that lights up the world. We are often told “there is something so special about her … she just shines.”
I figure we must be doing something right, she’ll stop when she is ready … and then she’ll do it perfect.
I was a thumb sucker. And I probably sucked my thumb until 8 or 9 years old, but I never remember sucking it at school. I was probably too embarrassed to do it around my classmates and my parents never made a big deal out of stopping. When I was 8 or 9 my orthodontist told them it was time to stop for the sake of my teeth. I then had a retainer put in which was a simple u-shaped piece of metal that was almost suspended from the roof of my mouth and prevented me from being able to put my thumb in there. I know it sounds like some sort of torture device, but it wasn’t bad at all. I was actually so excited to get a retainer (lol!) that i don’t recall being traumatized about not being able to suck my thumb anymore. Good luck!
I sucked my thumb as a child and it didn’t affect my teeth. I don’t remember my parents making a big deal about it or constantly trying to get me to stop. I eventually stopped on my own. I just remember thinking I don’t care to do this anymore. The funny thing is I only did it when I was going to sleep or sleeping. Most people didn’t even know I sucked my thumb unless they were family. Honestly I think it doesn’t matter how much you try to get Marlowe to stop, she will stop when she wants to. When she feels she doesn’t need that to comfort her anymore it will end.
Our nine year old daughter (youngest of four kids) was also a thumb sucker from before birth. The ultrasounds show her sucking her thumb. She also has a lovey. She’s kind of an anxious kid and we just let her self-sooth. She only did it in private. She’d promise every year to quit next year, etc. As she got bigger though, her teeth were affected. Last year at the dentist office, she saw pictures of people with really messed up teeth from thumb sucking and quit cold turkey on her own. ? She now uses the lovey to sooth herself at night. She holds it close to her mouth and nose like Marlowe is doing in the pictures. Marlowe is so bright, I think she too will figure it out without you doing too much. And no one sucks their thumb as an adult! Good luck! Love your blog.
Hi! Nice write up and I don’t comment often. My daughter, now 14 was a thumbsucker until she was just over 9 years old. We didn’t push for her to stop, even though her Daddy is a dentist. He didn’t seem worried. She only sucked her thumb with a penguin soft toy, maybe your version of a lovey. She stopped on her own after 2 nights – we moved house and genuinely lost her “penguiy”. LOL we found it again after we moved again a year later, she didn’t want it anymore. We still have the soft toy to remind her that she loved it so much, maybe more than her thumb sucking. Funny that her little brother didn’t take to the dummy or thumb either!
Our daughter decided she was ready to stop sucking her thumb at 6 yrs old. She was very self-motivated at this point. She would wear a fuzzy glove on her hand when watching tv and cuddling with her blankie. For night, we ordered a thumb guard (below) that worked perfectly! It comes with a sticker chart. She picked an American Girl doll as her reward once she didn’t suck her thumb for 44 nights. It was a positive experience and she was very proud of stopping the habit!
I waited until she was ready. We talked in general about stopping, but once it was her decision, she was ALL IN! She still sleeps with her blankie.
I don’t have any insight and I don’t have a thumbsucker. I do know that people usually have opinions about things that they know very little about. No one has ever raised your children, lived in your home, had the job you had, etc. The biggest lesson I have learned from being a mother is that you should never point fingers because you have no idea what that person goes through. I’m sure I had a lot of ignorant ideas about things pre-parenthood days but then I had a child and all of my obnoxious judgements went away. You and Kyle are really the only people with the right answers here. I am more than certain you will make the decisions that are most beneficial to Marlowe and your family!
My daughter (now 7), sucked her thumb from birth. We had been to the dentist, who referred us to the orthodontist and although her teeth “issues” were not all thumb sucking related, it didn’t necessarily help and he said when her adult teeth started coming in, if she was still sucking her thumb, then it would be an issue. When she was entering Senior Kindergarten (age 5) we gave her the Tguard (thumb guard). She stopped sucking her thumb within 2 weeks. I think she was really ready and on board with the whole process so that helped, but she has never gone back! That being said, I always hoped that my younger son would be a thumb sucker just because she is so much better at self soothing and he had such a hard time at night (he didn’t suck his thumb or use a pacifier). He will require orthodontic work too and he never sucked his thumb. I think when they are ready, they are ready and you can use the aids to help them break the habit.
Thank you for posting about this! I’m looking forward to reading through people’s comments and suggestions- I have a 3YO who is a 24/7 thumbsucker- she’s luckily had no speech issues but I just don’t know where to start with guiding her away from it. I feel guilty almost! On the flip side, I’ve had strangers pull her hand out of her mouth before and got defensive about her habit. What the heck, people!
I have a five year old little boy, who loves to suck his thumb WITH his blanket with the “really soft tag.” Lol. He will suck his thumb, and use the pointer finger of the same hand to stroke the soft tag right under his nose.
I have taken him to the dentist, and while they weren’t thrilled, his dental outlook is perfect. Right on the money.
I struggle thinking of the notion of taking this away. I have even had people tell me to put hot sauce on his thumb. ? Btw, I would never.
He is in kindergarten, and the teacher reports that he only does it at the end of the day when he is tired, and story time.
I love to watch him do this because I know that he is so comfortable and relaxed. I cannot, and will not punish him or anything. He is my sweet, sweet boy. He can suck his thumb as long as he wants. ??
While none of my kids were ever thumbsuckers, my first daughter is medically fragile and a paci was her ONLY coping mechanism, since she was neglected/abused the first two years of her life.
It’s a long story, but I was her nurse for a year, and ended up adopting her. But, once she was 3.5 I cut the nipples off the pacis and played dumb saying “I guess they’re broken.” She would keep putting them to her mouth and watch perplexed as they fell to the floor. Same deal as Marlowe’s with cold turkey – took a few days of anguish, but afterwards everything was fine.
I’d never heard the theory your mother in law suggested, and it is BRILLIANT. You guys are such observant and conscious parents, I would not worry. Seriously. You’ve thought through all your parenting decisions and arrived at conclusions based on what works best for everyone. That’s a whole lot more than some people do. Lucky, lucky kids to have you!
Thank you so much for the kind words! And genius idea with the pacis by the way xx
Marlowe is sooooooo cute and beautiful!! She’s surely gonna stop sucking with time especially with the brilliant ideas you’ve got to help her. You’re a great parent!! ❤️❤️♥️♥️
I have a cousins who’s a thumb sucker all of her life. She has great looking teeth. She’s also a nurse at our local hospital, has three children two boys and a girl who also sucks on her thumb. My cousin just celebrated her 38 birthday. And at the party she fell asleep on her couch sucking on her thumb. Her husband said she does that every night. And he’s fine with it. He Smiles…