1 – 2 – 3 – 4 – I declare a thumb war!

sick thumbsucker - Ian

I have three little thumb-sucking boys who never drop their blankies.

I’ve been told that they will naturally grow out of it, but my 4 year old shows no signs of stopping, my two year old gets more addicted by the day, and my 1 year old is on a fast track to sucking his thumb completely off. 

Does anyone have any encouragement or suggestions? I’m serious. I know how to take some and lose some. Sock it to me!

sad thumb

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a love story on going to outer space
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Amy Thompson
Reply March 2, 2009

Sadly, I consider myself an expert on this subject, but probably NOT the kind of expert you're looking for.

When my oldest was 5, we told her she could only suck her thumb at sleepy times & in the car. (Nap time, bed time, & in the car.) We allowed the car because the boredom caused the thumb-sucking there & there wasn't much we could do to distract her. However, we were FIRM otherwise. We would pull her thumb out & remind her that we weren't in the car & it wasn't a sleepy time. It took a couple of months and constant attention, but eventually she only sucked at "sleepy" times & in the car. That was a HUGE improvement.

We had heard that doing the above would lead her to stop sucking all together within a couple of months. Whoever said that, never had a thumb-sucker. She continued to suck at bed time until she was 8. (Like I said, I'm probably not the kind of expert you want. LOL)

However, when she turned 6, we told her no more in the car...and I moved to the back of the car to direct her...or moved her to the front seat. Again, it took a couple of months but we were then "thumb-free" in the car as well.

With both of these, we waited until their birthday & made it a, "You're 5 (or 6) now so..." You get the idea.

We had been told that sleepy times are the hardest to break because they'll do it in their sleep without realizing it. We never tried sleepy times...she just stopped that on her own about 1 1/2 years ago.

Good luck!

Amy Thompson’s last blog post..TV is Evil!

Amy Thompson
Reply March 2, 2009

Another note...start saving for braces now. The orthodontist was very quick to let me know that her thumb-sucking had made her mouth worse. Thankfully, I only had one thumb-sucker. Otherwise, the orthodondist would be owning us in a couple of years.


Amy Thompson’s last blog post..TV is Evil!

Lora Lynn
Reply March 2, 2009

I'm in the middle of this with my twins. We don't give them their special blankets unless they're in bed. We don't let them suck fingers unless they're in bed. And we keep talking about how when they turn five (next week), they are going to the dentist and he will tell them to stop so they need to be ready. I am not sure yet what we're going to do about night time. We may put a shelf up in their room for their blankies to sit on so they're still in the room (those things have taken on their own personalities in the kids' mind) but the kids can't reach them. I've got one who won't suck unless he's got his blanket and one who doesn't need it, so I imagine we'll have more trouble with the latter. My dentist friend told me they don't have to stop until they're five, it won't do harm until then.

I'll keep you posted. Good luck with that!

Lora Lynn’s last blog post..Nature to Nurture

Reply March 2, 2009

My younger step sister sucked her middle & ring fingers. She had permanent teeth marks at the base of her fingers, right above her knuckles. What broke her? A glove. I don't think a cloth-y lint-covered finger is as good in the mouth as the real deal.

brittney’s last blog post..against the grain

Reply March 2, 2009

Well, we broke my now 6 yo son of sucking his fingers - he sucks his first and middle fingers - about 2 years ago. I put a glove on his hand and used duct tape (not on his skin) around the bottom of the glove to tighten it just enough so he couldn't pull it off - but not tight enough to cut off the blood flow to his hand. It worked. But, we've since discovered he still sucks his fingers at night. I know, I'm a bad mother. I need to find the glove again for night time. My mom used a yucky nail polish that tasted like peppers to break my sister and I when we were little. I've been looking for that, but haven't found it yet. I think it would work pretty good.

BlueCastle’s last blog post..Organizing My Life Pt. 1

Reply March 2, 2009

My middle two, 8 and 5, are my thumb suckers. We thought we had broke the 8 yo of it when he was 6, but a little while ago we discovered he was still sucking it at night.

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Lisa B @ simply His
Reply March 2, 2009

I'm sorry to say I didn't have any experience with this. We chose to give my daughter a pacifier because it would be easier to take away than her thumb ;)

One thing that may help: my daughter had started biting her fingernails. They make some really nasty tasting stuff to put on fingernails (clear) that kept her from wanting to bite her fingernails. You might be able to use something similar on their thumbs? Perhaps if it starts tasting bad enough, they'll stop?

Good luck girlie!

Lisa B @ simply His’s last blog post..I see hurting people.

Lisa B @ simply His
Reply March 2, 2009

Whoops. Just read your other comments :)

BlueCastle said she had a hard time finding something. We found this I think in a drug store (CVS? Rite Aid? Don't remember?). The brand we got is a black and white label, Hoof Hands, Kick the Habit - Stop the Bite. It's made by a company in Little Rock - Onyx Laboratories. Perhaps that's enough for you to find something near you? :)

Reply March 2, 2009

Well, the good news is that my daughter sucked her thumb for ages, and did not need braces. She has beautifully straight teeth, so the one thing does not necessarily follow the other. And she is now 28. She would automatically pop her thumb in her mouth when she picked up the blankie, so we restricted the movement of the blankie. It lived in her bed. And one day she simply stopped. She must have been about 4 or 5 I think. I can't begin to describe the state of the blankie by then.
Good luck!

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Amy Thompson
Reply March 2, 2009

We tried nail polish, a sock, a glove, etc. NOTHING worked until we became "hands-on" and made it a "big-girl" thing. Those things are great...when you don't have a child who'll wash her hands, find the nail-polish remover, or take the glove or sock off! She's a smart one...and it made it THAT much harder! LOL


Amy Thompson’s last blog post..TV is Evil!

Reply March 2, 2009

I used to read all of these articles about soaking your kid's thumb in tobasco, or cod-liver oil, or whatnot. It seems that has generally fallen off the "approved by Moms" list.

Be honest... did anyone try that?

Seth’s last blog post..New Site Coming Soon

    Reply March 2, 2009

    It does make me wonder what's in the stuff at the pharmacy.

    All this is awesome, and I'd love to hear more.

    If my boys get near something silky, the thumb goes in. They can't help it. Maybe it is a good idea to deal with the blankie-issue first?

Reply March 2, 2009

One of my boys sucked his two middle fingers until he was 4. What finally worked for us was duct tape. We kept his fingers wrapped in it all the time for about 2 or 3 weeks. It tasted nasty and he couldn't get it off. We got strange looks and lots of questions, but it worked!

Robin’s last blog post..Happy Birthday Benjamin!

Reply March 2, 2009

I thought breaking the binky habit was hard! I have never had a thumb sucker, but I will keep my ear out for any helpful advice=)

Heather of the EO
Reply March 2, 2009

I didn't have time to read the other comments, but I've always felt like this is something you have to just live out. What I mean is that stepping back and trusting that they really will grow out of it and that time will be here before you know it? And if not, there are tricks to help them along. By the time you live your way into dealing with it with your third, you'll be an expert. The first two are experiments :) I know it's not good for their teeth and all that, but I don't know. I'm overly laid back about these things, I suppose...

Heather of the EO’s last blog post..Waxing theological. Sort of.

the domestic fringe
Reply March 2, 2009

I couldn't believe the pict of his thumb. Poor kiddo...doesn't it bother him?

Don't be discouraged. I've never seen a 40 year-old man sucking his thumb. I'm sure he'll outgrow it.


the domestic fringe’s last blog post..Bookstore Blues

Reply March 2, 2009

Okay, this is about to be ugly. Both my brother and I were thumb suckers. Hard core ones like your boys. My remedy was that in K4, I was a swingin' on the parallel bars on the play ground and I did it for so long, my hands got sweaty and I lost my grip, flew of the bars and into the gravel. My right hand was bend inward. I broke both bones. My cast was up to my armpit. I never sucked my right thumb again. However, my left one tasted pretty okay. The next year in K5, I was trying to get away from Jeremy Jones in a game of "kiss chase." I was swinging from the monkey bars almost to the end when he caught me. He swung his legs around my uniformed little body and down we both went. This story was as scandalous then as it is now. I landed on my left elbow and broke it. Cast up to my armpit. I never sucked ANY thumb ever again.

My brother was worse because he never broke bones. He'd fall and roll. I fell and broke. My parents would put that nasty tasting ointment for sores (campho-something-or-other). At first it worked until he learned he could suck through the nasty to get to the good. So, his dentist sent him to an orthodontist where they put an appliance into the roof of his mouth that poked his thumb when he'd put it up there disallowing the pleasure of a good thumb suck. Nothing was groser to me than this memory of him though. One night we'd had some pasta something for dinner and Michael later puked. He did make it to the toilet, but, a noodle from his innerds came up and got stuck in his appliance. He couldn't wait to show me and gross me out. The torment of an older brother! However, the appliance did work. He stopped sucking that thumb!

Milton’s last blog post..Pinch Me Please

Reply March 2, 2009



Reply March 2, 2009

MILTON!!! That is absolutely the funniest thing I've ever read. I promise that you just made my funnies for the week! I couldn't read it to Seth without laughing my face off.

Reply March 2, 2009

Take the blanket away now. Kids need to learn to cope on their own, at some point, especially with grade school coming up. I recall a kid in kindergarten who cried for the first 3 weeks of school because he didn't have his blanket. Nap time was a sight. Get rid of them now before the same thing happens to all of them.

    Reply March 2, 2009

    I love you Hamster.
    I love you anonymous.
    That is all.

Reply March 2, 2009

We talked and talked and talked about it...she really had a desire to quit, but it took the dentist showing her how her teeth were moving forward for her to finally stop...along with a little help from the nasty thumb paint :P Good luck!

Esther’s last blog post..Pool Party? Come on in!

Reply March 3, 2009

well here's my 2 cents. My oldest STILL sucks his middle and ring finger when he's falling asleep. I'm pretty sure he thinks I don't know. I've tried the yucky tasting stuff from collier's. I guess it helped him stop sucking them during the day...this was a few years ago. But mostly what made him stop during the day was leaving the cow in the bed. If he gets the cow, the fingers go in. So the cow stays in the bed. So he never sucks them during the day, but when he gets in his bed, he grabs that cow and I see him hiding his finger sucking. He doesn't want to do it. He prays about it....but it's a very hard habit to break. And I don't really push it. I probably should. I guess I would say, yes, if you want to break the habit...address the blanket issue. I'd give a warning. Like, in so many days, the blankie is going to stay in the bed during the day. Maybe do a reward chart as well. Surely just having it at night will help his sweet little thumb to heal up some. I hope this helps. :)

Sara’s last blog post..Happy.

Reply March 3, 2009

My dear Ragan sucked her thumb for 7 1/2 years. When she was older it was just when she was tired. She was the sweetest child and very content. Which I think had a lot to do with that thumb! I worried about her teeth but she didn't have braces and has beautiful teeth. I will say her thumb is a bit deformed. We tried everything to get her to stop. When she was 7 the dentist said he could put an appliance in her mouth that would prevent her from sucking her thumb. We gave her six months to quit and she did it on her own.. with a little help from band-aids. That is our thumb story! What can I say?!
I wouldn't fret too much about their thumb sucking or blankie love. These days will soon be gone. There are days that I wish for thumb sucking instead of teen issues...
With wonderful parents like you and Seth they will turn out great! (even if they do have deformed thumbs) :)

Reply March 6, 2009

Heaven help me... I have a thumb sucker, too. She's 11 months old and so far we don't have a blankie... Giving mine up at age 19 scarred me enough to avoid that at all costs... There was nothing legal I could do about the thumb, and the only way she'd take a pacifier was if I held it in there for her. Kinda defeated the purpose... I thought the thumb sucking was worth it, since she soothed herself in the night, but I guess I won't know if it was worth it until I get the orthodontist's bill, right?

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Reply March 10, 2009

I have a thumb sucker too, my daughter is 3 and a half and is attached to her blankie and her thumb. Thanks for all the suggestions. I couldn't bare taking away her blankie, though. A friend of mine had her daughter wear a shirt where the arms of the sleeves were sewn shut and that's what did the trick. She couldn't get her thumb.

Stacey’s last blog post..Check This Out

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