Despite having sucked my thumb until age eight, I know nothing of thumb-sucking.  I assumed it started in the lovey phase or in the I’m-scared-of-monsters-under-my-bed age.  I did not think it started at two months.


No matter.  Have at it I say.  Farrah loves breastfeeding but she’s not in love with breastfeeding.  She frequently turns the breast down and within minutes has got that fist in her gob Desperately Seeking Thumbkin.  I look forward to many years of a little ol’ thing called Self Soothing.

Mom gotcha down?  Thumb.

Big brother snatched your toy because he knows you can’t walk?  Thumb.

Still facing backwards in the car?  Thumb.

Hold up.

What’s that Wikipedia?


Alveolar prognathism, caused by thumb-sucking and tongue thrusting in a 7-year-old girl.

This tells me two things: 1) there’s probably no way I sucked my thumb until I was eight years old, and 2) Let The Worrying Begin!

“The American Dental Association recommends:
Praise children for not sucking, instead of scolding them when they do.
If a child is sucking its thumb when feeling insecure or needing comfort, focus instead on correcting the cause of the anxiety and provide comfort to your child.
If a child is sucking on its thumb because of boredom, try getting the child’s attention with a fun activity.
Involve older children in the selection of a means to cease thumb-sucking.
The pediatric dentist can offer encouragement to a child and explain what could happen to its teeth if it does not stop sucking.
Only if these tips are ineffective, remind the child of its habit by bandaging the thumb or putting a sock/glove on the hand at night.”

Do not do what they did in the 1950s:  parents could get a series of sharp prongs known as “hay-rakes” cemented to a child’s teeth to discourage sucking.

I sucked my thumb going to sleep.  I remember stroking the satin edge of my blanket with one hand while sucking my thumb on the other.  (I think this memory must mean I was at least five or six years old.)  I also remember the taste and feel of that anti-thumb sucking paint interrupting my pleasure.  I probably ate a case of that crap.  While I love candy, I’ve also always had a great affection for bitter foods: grapefruit, arugula, vinegar anything, dill, caraway, et cetera.  Now I wonder if there is a correlation between that nasty nail polish and my preferred flavor profile.

Damnit Childhood, why do you have to be so impressionable?


4 thoughts on “Thumbsucker

  1. Try not to worry too much about the long term yet, babies can definitely have short-term habits which just disappear within a few weeks or months. I remember being horrified when my first sucked her thumb at a few months old (still having memories of the girl in my 1st-grade class who had two permanently bent middle fingers from walking around with them in her mouth all the time, only having one truly functional hand as the other was unavailable), but the baby thumb-sucking didn’t last long at all, it was more like an experiment.


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