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Thursday, January 15, 2009

Do your kiddos suck their thumbs?

When we first met the girls, they would pull their tiny t-shirts into their mouths and gum on them until the fronts of their shirts were sopping wet. A small pile of Ree's precious ChewiesPretty quickly though, Ree decided she liked "chewies" (cut up white Gerber undershirts) along with her thumb, and Ro decided she liked "Dreas" (the yellow bear-head blankies we sent One of Ro's six precious Dreasto China) and "Baba" (her purple terrycloth octopus). At bedtime Ree would snuggle up with as many chewies as she could find, pop her right thumb in her mouth, Ro's "best" Babaand happily drift off to sleep. Ro liked to stuff as much Drea or Baba into her mouth as she could and then keep rotating it in search of the best spot. We'd wait until she was asleep and then sneak in and pull the sopping wet lovey out of her mouth because we were afraid she'd choke during the night. A couple of months ago Ro developed a nasty persistent rash on her chin. We were convinced it was because she basically had a gross, wet cloth plastered to her face all night and the pediatrician agreed. So we explained the problem to Ro, told her we needed to take the loveys away, and prepared for the fight of our lives. Only it never came! She accepted our explanation, gave up the habit cold turkey, checked the mirror every morning (along with her sister) to see if the rash was going away (it was), and transferred her love to a posse of stuffed animals that she'd hug when she was sleeping. (The four animals she now can't sleep without, in case anyone's curious, are Hammy the snowman, Beary the small pink bear, monkey #1, and monkey #2.) Whatever... That was a pretty long-winded way to get to my question, sorry. Anyhow, the question involves Ree. She still sucks her thumb every night. Is this a problem in any way? Do kids just stop sucking their thumbs naturally, or are you supposed to encourage it to stop, or is it even something you worry about at this age or any age? Does it affect the teeth, guarantee you'll need braces, or lead to any other kind of problems? Just curious. Any advice or been-there-done-that stories you've got would be appreciated. Particularly those along the lines of "you don't need to do anything at all, this is totally normal and will take care of itself." Heh, I'm kidding. Any advice at all. Oh, and since my mother complains if I put up a post without any pictures, here are a few gratuitous cute kid photos: Riding the crazy train with BobBob (I knew something was up when he came in the house looking for rope and duct tape) BobBob's crazy fun train Wait for us, we're coming (yeah they're wearing PJs, dress-up clothes, and snowboots again, I guess it's just the thing to do this winter) Wait, wait for us Mama, here we come! Trying to cover our entire patio with chalk (hey they actually changed out of PJs at some point during the day) Sweet little artists Ree's arm on Ro's back just killed me -- SO sweet Ree's little hand on Ro's back was just the cutest thing Beautiful little artists (they told me they had drawn Gilroy Gardens, China, the pizza place, the grocery store, the candy store, the ABC store, and the rocket place -- it's a funny glimpse at what's important to them) The chalk sisters (Ro left, Ree right)


  1. Oh, this is so weird. I've never commented, and now I'm the first one?

    My daughter sucks her thumb and she's almost four-and-a-half. She has always been a high needs baby and child and I was okay with her method of self soothing.

    Of course, none of my family members over the age of 50 approved, and they made it clear. Every doctor and dentist I've spoken to says she'll outgrow it when she's ready.

    Her dentist, who specializes in pediatric dentistry, said she sucked her thumb until she was six or seven. She said if they stop before the permanent teeth come in, their teeth won't be affected by it.

    Everyone in our family had braces, even with no thumbs or pacifiers, so I'm sure she'll need them too. Thumb or no thumb.

    I'm just happy she has a way to comfort herself when she needs it.

  2. Their hair is absolutely beautiful !! I hope our adopted baby will have the hair looking like this (but we're still far away from the referal :(

  3. Anonymous1/15/2009

    The pictures are super, about time some one starts listening to me.


  4. Peter sucked his thumb until about age 4 or so. He stopped long before his two front teeth came out. He also still uses his blanket when sleeping and throws it around his shoulders when watching TV. He's almost 10.

    My sister sucked her thumb and I didn't. We both had braces and in fact, her teeth came out better than mine. Check with your pediatrician to get another opinion, but in my opinion don't stress about it.

  5. My niece is 4 years and 4 months and she sucked her thumb until about 3 1/2. She went to the dentist and the dentist told her how sucking her thumb can affect the way her teeth look, etc.

    She would suck her thumb during the day, too, though. When she was tired, frustrated, annoyed, mad, sad, an any other reason. Her thumb was becoming RAW because of it. My brother (her dad) then showed her some nasty thumb sucking teeth pictures online and that got her to stop sucking....

    For about 6 months.

    Her brother was born about 2 months after she stopped (cold turkey), and I guess that might have been the cause.

    We're still battling it now. Her thumb is raw again.

  6. Both my sisters sucked their thumbs, the first from early infancy and the second from 2 yrs. when my mom took her bottle away and the first sister showed her how to suck the thumb.

    My mom did nothing to discourage my sisters from sucking as they got older and here's what happened:

    Sister 1: Sucked and sucked and sucked until around 12 yrs. old! Finally, embarrassment stopped her, BUT for the next couple years, sometimes in deep sleep, she'd suck her thumb! All of us had bad teeth, but an orthodontist did some prophilactic care on her with a head-gear at night and she avoided braces. This sister has the lowest self-esteem and I wish my mom had been more helpful in helping this sister grow up, but she kept babying her and making excuses for her and now she struggles with many issues as an adult. She wants to be strong and capable and my mom still calls her "tender and sensitive" which my sister sees as "wimpy and weak." I wish my mom for once would just say to her, "You are strong and capable!" because she can be with some encouragement. Knowing she last sucked her thumb in her late teens didn't help her any with her self-esteem.

    Sister 2: I worked on this sister because I couldn't stand how the other kept at it and that my mom did nothing and I didn't want her to turn out like the first sister. I told her she was getting big and not a baby any more and that sucking her thumb was something for babies and very little kids and gave her "the look" if she sucked it during the day. She stopped herself around age 7 or 8 completely. She had the worse teeth of all of us - no early interventive orthodontics for her for some reason. At age 28 she finally got braces.

    In my daycare, I've seen kids with staph infections from sucking a thumb or finger with broken skin. I've seen buck-teeth and I've hated that the saliva from the thumb always being wet is touching the toys all the other kids play with, not to mention me and everyone and everything else. It's not a very sanitary habit. My rule, the thumb is allowed only in bed at nap time and hands must be washed upon waking. No one has a problem with this, kids or parents.

    My suggestion to you with an adopted child who seems very well adjusted is to do what you already did with the yucky cloths. Discuss the downside of thumb-sucking and see if she can stop cold-turkey. If not, start setting limits, but announce the limits a few days ahead of when they go into effect and keep bringing it up as a reminder. Incentive for cold-turkey would be to paint her nails with fancy polish and flowers, but be sure she's not going to forget and suck since this stuff might be toxic. Most of all, be sure to practice good hygiene rules around the thumb, such as washing hands before and after sucking.

    Most of all, watch her reaction. See if she's fine about it or if it's a problem. If quitting is a big problem, it might not be the right time and slower steps might be needed. It's perfectly natural for babies/toddlers to suck their thumbs, but like other baby behaviors. like wetting a diaper vs. using the potty, parents sometimes have to guide the child out of it and into something else, using the child's response as a guide.

  7. My younger bio son, now 18, sucked his thumb until he was about 6 or 7. We did try to discourage it by talking about how "big boys" didn't do that and we would set deadlines, with his input, as to when he would stop. None of this ever worked and he eventually stopped on his own. We didn't try to make him feel bad about it but just kept the discussions going about it needing to come to a stop. I really didn't want a teenager who sucked his thumb and I've heard of that happening.

    To help with the teeth and overbite thing, I would go into his room at night after he fell asleep and remove his thumb from his mouth. Once he was asleep, he didn't put it back in.

    My older son took a pacifier and we just tossed it when he was about 10 or 11 mos old. Very slight to zero trauma. It is one of the benefits of a pacifier but my younger son came out of the womb with his thumb in his mouth and would never take the binkie.

    Good luck!

  8. I just sent you something about this.
    I love the train, sooo cute! Your dad has great fun ideas. Before I forget, I would like to see a full princess next time. There is always something covering your little princess in her pretty dress.

  9. My sister also was a thumb sucker and my mom (who has six kids!) let her be and she stopped around 9-10. Its a comforting thing to so, why make a kid stop doing something that makes them feel safe and secure? My sister has lovely teeth btw!

  10. thumbguard.com is what I have heard a few times.

  11. My daughter sucked her thumb. Early on we talked about her quitting when she was 5. We continued to remind her that children must stop when they turn 5 (it's the law or something we told her)! When she turned 5, she stopped cold turkey. She had one minor set back in kinder when she had a friend who sucked her thumb. I think she was just seeing if she could do it! We talked about it and she has never done it again. She also has a lovie (a blankie) that went hand in hand with the thumb. I thought it would be hard for her to quit because of it, but she was a trooper and continued to use the blankie with no problem (she still uses it today and she is 10)! As far as teeth...it probably is great, but i think that is why we have orthodontics!! My 14 year old did not suck her thumb and has worse teeth than my 10 year old. Hope this helps! Good Luck!

  12. Sorry, no thumb sucking babies, here....we have a whole other issue....the pacifier!! Sarah will not give it up....she also has a bunny head blanket that must be with her for all naps and bedtime.....I am letting it go, because it is her security, but I would love to phase out the pacifier. I am anxious to read the answers you get here.

    As always, CUTE pictures....love the crazy train:)


  13. We had a paci addict in our home, and he quit cold turkey when he turned 3 (after a LOT of talking up about how 3 year old big boys didn't use pacis). He still drinks his milk from a bottle tho, and his dentist said that as long as he brushed his teeth before bed, no big deal.

    Ask your pediatrician (or pediatric dentist) about it, if its a problem, they can probably provide you with ideas how to help her get rid of the habit.

  14. Anonymous1/16/2009

    My now 10 year old was a thumb sucker until he was about 5 or 6 years old. Once his adult teeth really started coming out, we worked on stopping it. By that time, he was old enough to understand and we just had to figure out what worked for him as a thumb replacement. Like you, we were surprised at how easy it was...I think when they're ready, it all works out. This being said, this week we met with an orthodontist and the first question she asked after she examined him was if he was ever a thumb sucker!! Orthodontry bills, here we come!

  15. My daughter, Caroline, did exactly the same thing when we adopted her two years ago. She would pull her shirt up and suck her thumb when she went to sleep. At first, I thought it might be a bad thing. I have three bio kids...all took a pacifier...a GREAT comfort item...but we could take it away at some point...longer and later with each child, by the way. And the one who had it the least amount of time is in braces. Number 2 needed an expander (nothing to do with sucking a pacifier) and will be skipping braces!

    Anyway, she only does it when she's going to sleep. She also attached quickly to a pink blanket...see "Eyes" post on wepicture{this}. :-) Although her thumb had a major callous when we first brought her home and continued to show signs of wear for the first few months, a little Aquaphor really helped. It doesn't seem to even be really chapped anymore. I think she sucks on it until she falls asleep and then it comes out.

    My take...and this is because it seems to have worked itself out for me...different kids may call for different actions...I'm not too worried about it. That was obviously the way she comforted herself to sleep in the orphanage, and it helped her tremendously during her transition. She has almost always put herself to sleep at bedtime.

    IMO...if changes aren't absolutely warranted at this point, it's not worth messing with what is a comfort routine.

    You are obviously a fantastic mom, by the way! Love reading your blog! You are funny and inspiring! Your girls are just a few months older than Caroline, and I enjoy their antics!

  16. Rope, duct tape, and toddlers? Would have scared me... But looks like lots of fun!

    As for thumb suckers...
    Our 4 1/2 year old daughter sucks her left thumb. Always has. I've also taken her to the dentist regularly since age 2. Her left, front tooth pokes out a tad more than the other. The dentist said that her sucking her thumb has actually give room for her teeth to grow in as her mouth is kind of small (You could fool me when she screams so loud!). So she is not worried about the thumb sucking. She also said by kindergarten it is usually gone because they are so busy with school they forget about it.
    Also, our daughter sucks her's only with her blankie (one ply cloth diaper). Dentist said when the lovies go, the thumb sucking stops...usually. Our daughter gave up her lovie this school year, but replaced it with daddy's softball shirt. So we are slowly trying to ween her off that.
    Unless you see a huge problem with tooth movement, I would not worry about it. I feel our kids have had a rough beginning and they need something to soothe them!

  17. Anonymous1/16/2009

    I wouldn't worry about it until around age 6 when they start losing baby teeth. My daughters lower teeth came in crooked and the dentist actually told her to put pressure behind them to try and move them up (so this tells you constant pressure CAN affect alignment).
    My twins had beautiful, straight white baby teeth. I thought we were going to be lucky and avoid braces. Permanent teeth don't come in ANYTHING like their baby teeth.
    I'm looking at braces X 2 (no thumb suckers)!

  18. Lily doesn't suck her thumb but sucks her index finger and her middle finger sometimes. She did it alot in China and I don't notice it as much now. However, she still does when she's tired and in bed. Our family friend, who happens to also be our dental hygenist, has a fit. Says it will affect her teeth, etc. I haven't fought it because, well I figure if that's her biggest issue then I'm happy. Our pediatrician said don't even waste my time fighting it until she can understand and be reasoned with. Since your girls are a little older, Marie might be able to understand if you explain it all to her. ??????? Heck, what do I know? Good luck!

  19. I'm a preschool speech & language pathologist and I always encourage parents to prevent their child from sucking their thumb around 3-4. However, it's a personal decision. If you do decide to try to stop it, here is a book I always recommend to parents:

    How to Stop Thumbsucking and Other Oral Habits; Pam Marshalla

    And here is a little about the book (from Amazon):

    "When a child sucks a thumb, finger, or pacifier too long, it can have a detrimental effect on the child's teeth, speech, swallowing, and social appearance. This book is full of easy-to-understand solutions that have helped thousands of children stop or reduce problematic thumbsucking. Perfect for parents, therapists, and caregivers, the author helps the reader to learn: how thumbsucking begins, six good reasons to stop, eleven principles for change, organizing successful therapy activities and many resources for additional information and therapy tools. A majority of children will progress if given time, encouragement and food remediation procedures. This book contains the most effective strategies available today."

    Hope this helps.


  20. My Liv sucked her thumb almost violently. So badly that she had a huge callous on her thumb from it. I decided (somewhere around 2.5 years old) that this would be an easier habit to break while she was younger. (I posted about this on my blog in Oct 2005.)

    I'm a middle school teacher and each year I have at least one child (yes, in middle school!) who will suck their thumb when they think no one is watching. Self-comforting, yes, but pretty darn strange to see. Anyway, I spoke to Liv about stopping her thumb sucking. She would "forget" and put her thumb in her mouth at bedtime/naptime and in the car (when she was bored or tired). Finally, we decided to let her wear little socks on her hands as a reminder. It worked great. She never minded a bit; never cried, never missed a wink of sleep over it. At that point, I decided it wasn't so much a comforting method as it was a habit. After about six weeks of wearing the "sleepy socks", the habit was gone. She's perfectly fine now. Sleeps with a couple of special "stuffies".

    I don't think it's that big of a deal as long as it doesn't cause mouth/teeth/speech problems. But if you are like me and just don't like it, the socks worked great. Good luck!

  21. Anonymous1/16/2009

    You have a lot of advice and suggestions here so I don't want to add to the plethora. All I will say is that I know far too many grown adults to still (secretly) suck their thumb.

    I think there is nothing cuter than a thumb-sucking baby, but by the time you can shave and drive it's probably time to put a sock over that hand and get a grip!

  22. Ryleigh came to us sucking her two first fingers. Never during the day. As soon as her back hit the mattress, in they went. When we wanted her to chill and go to sleep we'd say "fingers in". Now, I just realized in the past month or so, that she isn't doing it anymore.....so maybe she'll just stop. I don't think it's a horribly bad habit to have, personally. Most children these days end up with braces anyways, and dentists don't seem to care if they suck their thumb/fingers....

  23. our youngest daughter was a serious thumb sucker. It was a JOB for her! We tried everything the dentist,dr, or next door neighbor recommended. Tape a baby sock over the thumb at night, tape it up with surgical tape, put hot sauce on it, put Stop Thumb Sucker (over the counter)stuff on it. NOthing, and I mean nothing worked. She sucked her thumb til she was 13, probably longer. Needless to say, we had one heck of a orthodontist bill.
    If you can get her to stop now, you may save alot of time & money later.

  24. Great question!! I've been wondering the same thing lately as Charla sucks her thumb at night as well but only when she has her blankie. It's too funny...she will not suck her thumb at all unless she has that blanket!! As soon as her hands get a hold of her special blankie...in pops the thumb!

    We keep the blanket hidden during the day and only give it to her at nap or nighttime. It was a HUGE life saver to have that self soothing during transition to our home and family!!! She slept like an angel instantly here and I'm sure it was because of her blankie!

    Now.....I'm wondering if I need to take the blankie away so that she'll stop sucking her thumb??!! I'd so hate to take the blankie away though cause she REALLY REALLY loves it!!! She's just 2 though so I'm going to wait and see how she does on her own in the next while. Maybe I'll try before 3 to see what happens!!!

    Good luck!!! Glad Ro was able to so easily drop her suckies for you guys!!! :) Maybe you'll get double lucky!!! :)

  25. I must admit I was a thumb sucker myself and it lasted into my late teens....okay yes I sound like a freak.

    Anyway my parents tried EVERYTHING for years and the only thing that sticks out in my mind was the nasty tasting stuff but it didn't stop me. I never had braces and I don't have an overbite at all.

    I say don't stress about it and let her outgrow it.

  26. I have a 9 year old who stills sucks his thumb, but we have gotten him to only do it when: A) he's tired B.) hes' tired or C) when he's sick or tired.. My brother stopped at age 11 and has no permanent damage to anything in his mouth.. in fact he never has needed braces. I say, unless someone (a professional) states its mandatory- don't push it... :)

  27. Karen G.1/16/2009

    Two of my sons sucked their thumbs. My oldest gave it up on his own between the ages of 3 & 4 years. My middle son, and much more emotional child, sucked his thumb a long time. Until he finally got an expander put on for braces at the age of 12. I tried the stuff you paint on to make their thumbs taste terrible. I tried putting socks on his hands while he slept and taping them on. He later told me he took them off during the night and put them back on in the morning. I could always tell when he was stressed as the thumb went in. He didn't want to do sleepovers for a long time because he feared sucking his thumb in his sleep. Once the expander went on, that was the end of it. He is still an emotionally trying kid at 19! As far as a guarantee for braces, the answer is no. My youngest still needed braces and never sucked his thumb. Same with my two daughters. They'll need braces, too, and neither sucked their thumbs. It isn't worth stressing her out over it. My advice is to just let her suck her thumb. She'll give it up when the time is right. Hope this helps! I really enjoy reading your blog even though I don't comment much. Thanks so much for sharing your life with us!

  28. Both my kids have sucked their thumbs from infancy. At 9 and 3 they still do (Evan only while he's sleeping). I was never concerned before, but now I am because I can't get him to stop- he's sleeping! and his bite is messed up and he will need braces soon. I see Camille headed that way. I hope someone gives you good advice that I can use too.

  29. Anonymous1/16/2009

    I sucked my thumb as a child, til rather late. I still remember my mom's tactic, cutting up my lovey blanket (I had to rub my cheek with it when I sucked) until it got smaller and smaller and smaller, then we had a ceremony packing it away in a box.
    My sister never used a passy, never sucked her thumb.
    My sister needed braces. I have perfectly straight teeth - sometimes people compliment me and ask me if I ever wore braces.

  30. Mary Mia,

    I sucked two fingers for so long that I cannot even remember the exact age my father PAID me to quit. $100. I bought a bike. Braces, jaw surgery at 17...the works. That $100 didn't end up saving him a dime in orthodontics. Not to mention the germs: my childhood was littered with strep, colds, ear infections...you name it.

    I was thanking the Lord when neither of my daughters came out of the womb sucking fingers (as I had), and neither cared for a paci.

    Substitute that thumb for a very, very special lovey. Gently pull her thumb out of her mouth while she's sleeping. Explain to her about germs and why we don't put our hands in our mouths. And then reward suck-free nights and naps. In 1, 2...or 7 years, you'll be there!

    Good luck. We just started new reward charts over here. Parenting is a slow, long road.


    Mommy of Sara & Kelly

  31. Anonymous1/16/2009

    My oldest was a thumb sucker. Our dentist had been bugging me for 2 years to break the habit but E wasn't budging. He only sucked his thumb when he had his blanket so we limited his blanket to his bed & he only sucked his thumb during naptime & at bedtime. He was about 4.5 when he quit. We bribed him. He had to go thumb free for a whole week & then he got a Lego Fire Station. He was pretty excited about that. We put a bandaid on his thumb & removed his blanket & he never sucked his thumb again. Unfortunately he replaced one bad habit with another - he still chews his blanket & it's been almost 4 years since he gave up the thumb. His blankey is nasty...

    He does have some dental problems. He has a massive overbite & we're currently working with a dentist to correct it. E is the current owner of a $900 piece of plastic intended to correct the overbite. Only E keeps chewing it to pieces, so it's not working out all that well.

    My advice is to not get too worked up over it. If you can find a way to have her give it up, great. If not, try again in a few months.

  32. Okay...my oldest just turned 40 (mother of a China cherub), next in line is 37 and the baby is 30. All three sucked their thumbs as soon as they were able to get it in and if truth be known, I helped them when they were too little to do it on their own, because they wouldn't take a pacifer and I was desperate.

    The 40 year old...sucked her thumb until she got braces at age 12 and it "didn't feel right" anymore. We had tried everything before that...gloves at night, etc. The 37 year old gave his up around 8 or 9 I think and the baby gave his up around 5. What can I say? A pacifer would have been better, because like the soggy lovey, it could be taken away. The thumb however, cannot be taken away or thrown away. Yet, I have heard many stories of kiddos giving them up on their own at much earlier ages than mine. Did they need braces? You betcha. But, they probably would have anyway, given the teeth and jaws they inherited.

    Relax Mama...they will eventually give up the thumbs. For now, enjoy the fact that it brings them comfort when needed.

  33. Hi,

    My daughter aged 3, from China, also sucks her thumb. Her pediatrician said just to tell her that when she needed to suck her thumb to go in her room, that it was a special ok place to do it. Otherwise, not to suck her thumb. He feels this is a way to phase out a need that a child has. Basically the philosophy is that your kid won't want to miss any fun during the day and that eventually the night thumb sucking goes away...

  34. My daughter was queen of the thumbsuckers. She carried her blankie around all day and had her thumb in her mouth. She was very verbal, loved to play, but if she had that blanket, the thumb was in her mouth.

    We finally restricted the blankie to bedtime only and she sucked her thumb until she was 5. We never tried to make her stop as she only did it at night. It didn't affect her teeth and lo and behold she stopped on her own when she started Kindergarten. No fuss, no muss, no making her feel badly or putting pressure on her. Just wanted to give you a story of hope! :)

  35. We adopted Lili when she was almost 4 1/2, she came to us sucking her thumb. During the first few days in China she sucked her thumb all throughout the day, then only at night to soothe herself to sleep.
    I remember once last year after she had been home about 6 months, she wanted her nails painted. I told her that she could not suck her thumb anymore with nail polish on. That did it. No more thumb sucking. That, and the fact that she didn't like the nasty callous that developed on her thumb from her bottom teeth rubbing on it.
    Ah, vanity!!

  36. Thanks for asking this question! I'm reading the comments with hopes that I will find help here. I, too, have a blanket sucker. It started with a corner of a pillow in China. She would suck on it for a while and then rotate to find another good spot. When we got home, she sucked on cloth diapers but only at night or naptime. Finally at four, we told her she was too big for a "binkie" and she gave it up only to take up sucking on the pillow case, the sheet, and now the comforter. What's a mom to do? Strip the bed? I'm hoping she will eventually give it up. her chin is chapped too from the wet cloth, but it doesn't see to bother her.

  37. Our oldest daughter sucked her thumb until she was 8 years old. Her teeth were so "bucked" from it we used to joke that she could eat an ear of corn through a picket fence. When she lost her two top front teeth it took a year for them to grow back in because she kept them pushed up and her gums got so calloused they couldn't cut through for a while. When she was 8 we broke her of the habit (nothing more than a bandaid on the thumb-but she wanted to stop too.) Within a couple years her teeth all moved into place and today she has the most beautiful smile with no braces ever. I think we got really lucky.

  38. Anonymous1/16/2009

    I stumbled on your blog as a link from another blog, and I just want to say, your children are just wonderful. My son sucked his thumb and even when he stopped during the day, he did it at night as a habit he was unaware of. We tried everything that was mentioned in the comment section and more. He ended up with a very high, very narrow palate in his mouth and was very buck-toothed. Poor kid, he was very self-conscious about it. He finally stopped with the palate expander, but that expander was VERY unconfortable for him and we just paid nearly 5K for braces.

    That said, one of the ladies I work with had the same problem with her 4 yo son. He just could not stop sucking his thumb at night although he was fine during the day. She went to the dentist and he installed a little appliance, basically just a bar that spans the roof of his mouth, so that thumb sucking was no longer confortable for him. It was not stressful, and it helped him break the habit in a very short time. Good luck!

  39. both of my boys suck their thumb (one adopted (2) one home made (4))i personally love seeing him suck his thumb when he sleeps-- cutest thing in the world-- i don't them suck outside of the bed- and as others said- as long as it's before the perm. teeth, it's ok;) (and so stinkin' cute!)

  40. I hate to sound like the big meanie here but if you can get her to stop sucking during the day -DO IT! With our daughter she has a hand towel as a comfort item and she is only allowed to have it during nap and nighttime and as soon as she has it she sucks her lower lip. She is 2 1/2 and understands that its only for sleeping and that's it.

    I've assisted in kindergarten classes with a boy who sucked his thumb. Not only did the other kids tease him, it was gross and ridiculous to see a 5/6 yo. who had a thumb permanently attached to his mouth. He'd try to talk around it and drool as he did, then go around touching toys and kids. Schools are filthy places and I can only imagine how many germs he was ingesting. He was sick much of the time which made it that much worse when there was snot dripping too. Ick! As you can see it made quite an impression on me!

    She seems like a confident little go-getter, don't let her do it during the day. What she does at night is her business. :)

  41. Your girls are just too cute. Love the train :)

    So, about the hair straightening. I will be expecting a disgruntled email from TubaDad, because once you've done it, there's no going back. I have been doing this almost 10 years!

    It's like chips. Or for you -- chocolate. You can't have just one.

    It makes life SO much easier and it WORKS. You only need to have the regrowth redone once it has grown out a bit.

    Email if you have any questions.

  42. Anonymous1/16/2009

    My son sucked his thumb until he was six. I worried and worried about it, but the pediatrician told us to not bring it up, he would decide when he didn't want it anymore. He also told us that it isn't a problem until they start losing teeth and the permanent ones start to come in.

    Well, my son lost his first tooth and I panicked and asked the Dentist. He too said not to worry too much but that it was time to start trying to get my son to quit. That within the next year, he really needed to be done with it or there would be damage. He recommended a book called "David Decides" and it TOTALLY worked for us. It put my son in control of WANTING to quit.

    Granted, the book could use some updating as the pictures look like something from the 70's and 80's!!! But the point of it was, it worked. My son stopped pretty much that night and HE decided how he was going to do it.

    Best of Luck.

    BTW, I Love your blog - check it most everyday!

    Mary in NE

  43. I was a thumb-sucker myself until about age 8. My parents were worried about my teeth, so asked my older brother's orthodontist for suggestions on getting me to stop. They wrapped my thumb-sucking arm with elastic bandage at night before bed -- the idea was that when I bent my arm to place my thumb into my mouth, the I would feel the stretch of the elastic to remind me to stop. Honestly, I suppose that the elastic bandage really didn't do much to prevent me from sticking the thumb in my mouth, but I did stop -- mostly because I hated that my arm had to be wrapped up at night.

  44. Martina never sucked her thumb, because she only sucked on things with milk in them when she was a baby. Pacis really made her mad. Where was the milk?

    So, I'll have to tell you about my own experience as a kid. I sucked my thumb for 5 1/2 years. My mom told me right before I started kg that I couldn't go to kg with the big kids and suck my thumb. I said OK, and quit cold turkey with no struggle. I did have braces, but so did my sister, who was not a thumb-sucker.

  45. My oldest daughter sucks her index and third fingers. She only does it at night and when she needs something to comfort her. We noticed when we got her (at her orphanage) she was sucking her fingers to calm herself. She eventually stopped sucking her fingters when she was in kindergarten. We talk with her pediatrician about (she too suck her thumb) our problem and she told me if this is comforting for her, it was okay. She too said eventualy the sucking will stop.
    Mary, I wouldn't worry too much because my daughter gave up sucking her fingers because we told her big girls don't suck fingers anymore. She was also getting pressure from her classmates. My daughter found comfort in having gazillion stuff animals instead of sucking her fingers.

  46. Love the pictures. As for sucking thumbs, Shayna does not (we still have the paci) but I did for over nine years. I gave it up on my own and hated more than anything when family tried to get me to stop. I still remember the things that were said. Anyway, I feel like I became a pretty good individual even though I sucked my thumb. I do not have any words of wisdom, just be gentle about the subject because I still remember things from that time in my life. Glad you see you are all doing well.

  47. My daughter, now 17, sucked her thumb to age 14 (by then, she was able to control it herself to just night-time). She's the only one in our family to need no orthodontics. As Michelle said, "she has a way to comfort herself when she needs it." She's very well adjusted, has developed a fine sense of Who She Is and what she isn't.

  48. Anonymous1/17/2009

    A good friend had one time told us "Braces are cheaper than therapy" My little sister still sucks her thumb and sucks it so much that she has blister type things on it.
    The question of is it guarantee they will need braces is not positive- we have another friend who's child sucked her thumb until she was 8 and didn't need braces but i guess you never know.
    Hope this helps in someway

  49. When I was younger I was a thumb sucker, my parents and grandparents did everything they could do to stop me. Nothing worked, then finally when I turned 6 I decided I was a big girl and stopped sucking my thumb on my own.
    I never needed braces, my teeth are perfectly straight. Sucking my thumb caused no long term damage it was worse having my parents try everything to stop it.
    Also, I talked to my doctor about pacifier use this week because my son turned one and he said that a person could suck on a pacifier until they are 47 and there would still be no damage done to their teeth, I would think it is the same with thumbs.
    I hope this helps, good luck.

  50. PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE...if you get any good ideas on how to get that dreaded thumb out of the mouth...Please POST IT! My DD#2, Mia has been sucking that thing since China 2 1/2 years ago and she's now 4 1/2. At daycare they tell her it's only for babies but she'll sneak it in like an alcoholic when no one's looking! I figured I'd let it go while in China, but, come on, it's 2 1/2 yrs later!!! Help me too!!! PLEASE???

    Doreen in Montreal single mom to Faith-Jiangxi & Mia-Sichuan

  51. Funny...snowboots in Californa and with princess costumes. As for the thumb: I am living proof of thumbsucking. I sucked my thumb until I was eight. I only stopped because my mom had the orthodontist put in a pokey thing on the roof of my mouth. My pediatriciam was so against it. He said I would just turn to something else and I did. Biting my nails. I had horrible teeth, braces twice, so when my oldest started to cuk his thumb I tried some "Thumb" it is a liquid that you paint on and it tasts nasty. I decided if it worked quickly, great. If not, I wasn't going to force him until he was ready. I didn't want him to turn to nail biting like I had. Luckily, it worked with in days.

    My opinion: after all that, sorry so long winded. Wait and see if she is ready....on her own.

  52. Oh such a hot topic. My daughter (2 years old) just quit cold turkey. It is funny the advice that you get. Thumbsuckers tell you to leave them alone, non-thumbsuckers say STOP NOW!! I was a non-thumbsucker and couldn't wait for her to stop!! I dreaded the thought of trying to break her. We have so many pictures of her where she is sucking her thumb, even one professional photograph - she always had her thumb in her mouth. She now says "babies suck thumb." Sorry, I don't have any advice, but maybe that's a good thing!!

  53. Malka still sleeps wit her paci, and she will until the cows come home, for as long as I care! ;)

    I sucked my thumb till goodness knows when, and yes, I needed a retainer, and braces.

    Malka's teeth are already SO bad, we just accept the fact that she'll need orthodonture work. I'm reluctant to take away a source of comfort for her, that helps ensure a restful night.

  54. Anonymous1/17/2009

    I am 47 years old and I sucked my thumb until I was 7. I gave it up of my own accord and my teeth are perfectly straight.

    Let her be, she'll give up when she is ready, and until then, continue to be the well adjusted little girl that she already is.

  55. Gorgeous pics of the girls chalk drawing!

    Have no pearls of wisdom.. but have no doubt, I'll be coming back for some of yours in about 6 weeks?!!

  56. I just wanted to add that I worked hard to get my son to take a pacifier hoping it would help him not suck his thumb, but I didn't do it because him sucking his thumb would bother me, I have heard that it is great for self soothing but I didn't want him to go through what I went through with my grandma trying to get me to quit. It was awful everything they did trying to get me to stop.

  57. What creative dressers your girls are!!! Too cute!

    DD2 sucks her thumb and pointer finger. She did this non-stop in China and now at almost 4, she sucks at night and during the day when she is tired or worried. I know she sucks to self soothe and while we gently tell her "no thumb" we haven't put in place a plan to stop. I had picked up a book at the library about stopping sucking, and the idea was to set up a chart and have the child work towards rewards for not sucking. Lots of ideas - keep us posted on what you decide to do!

  58. I sucked my thumb until I was 7, and coincidentally, so my oldest did the same. Funny China story: We were out sightseeing one day, and E (11 months at the time) was sucking her thumb, her head resting on my shoulder. An elderly Chinese woman approached us smiling, but tsk'ing and pulled out E's thumb. E frowned at her, turned her head away from the woman and stuck her other thumb in. :)

    My only rule was "no talking with your thumb in your mouth" -- and as she got older, there was no thumb-sucking in public (except in the car). By the time she was 6, she knew she needed to stop to take care of her teeth, and because big kids just don't suck their thumbs. It was hard, but we did it in phases. She's 8 now, and it only slips in at night from time to time.

    We saw the orthodontist for the first time last summer. Her mouth is going to need some work, but he told us he wouldn't be able to do anything until she stopped sucking her thumb (he offered an appliance to help, which we declined). That was the extra push we needed.

    Hope that helps!

  59. My youngest daughter is 8.5, and she's always been a double finger sucker. I remember she was 2ish and I asked her to stop and pulled her fingers out of her mouth and the Mother of All Meltdowns ensued. I never ever did that again LOL... Anyway, she stopped sucking her fingers on her own when she was about 6 I guess, but they still automatically go in her mouth every night, she just can't stop it, it happens regardless of whether she tries to stop or not. So, I figure she'll have to get braces anyway since her teeth are like all over the place, and eventually she WILL stop sucking them even at night. So I have no helpful advice, it's just something we've learned to live with for now.

  60. My eldest daughter sucked her thumb ALL the time. Personally, I thought it was adorable. However, my dentist and doctor told me to try and get her to stop. Nothing really helped until winter hit and her thumb was so dry and cracked and bleeding from sucking that she would cry. I explained to her that if she stopped sucking it, it would stop hurting. She never sucked it again. Wow.

  61. You know, I have so much to say on this subject I think I need to do my own post. I LOVE the pictures of the girls!

  62. Anonymous1/19/2009

    my daughter is 4.5 yrs (adopted from china). she has always been a thumb sucker. however, her peditrician recommended that i let her know it's okay to suck her thumb in private places (car, home) and not in public.

    this way, if she is still sucking her thumb in kinder the kids won't make fun of her (and as a teacher, they do.) my daughter understood this concept (private v. public) right away and it has not been a problem.

    her dentist told me not to worry about it until her permanent teeth come in.

  63. Thank you, everyone, for the suggestions and stories. You have given us A LOT to think about and we really appreciate it.

  64. Anonymous1/21/2009

    Please keep us posted on what you do ...

    DD at 4 was told by her pediatrician not to suck her thumb anymore and we were amazed to see her stop immediately. Good, right? Well, a month later I realize I had not trimmed her fingernails in a long while and sure enough, she transferred her soothing from sucking to biting and peeling her fingernails! (Have to say, she does a good job and anyone else would think her mom trimmed them but no!)

    Now she grabs her lovely (which used to be only for bedtime) and says "I need this to not bite my fingers!" And I find her hiding her hand under the lovely, sucking her thumb or nibbling on a finger. So things are worse and not sure how to proceed! It is definitely a a combo of self-soothing and a major unconscious habit. I wish we had left it alone.

  65. My totally unprofessional opinion is not to sweat it!
    My oldest sucked her thumb. When she stops texting long enough to speak she has perfect diction and straight teeth.
    The next was a pacifier junkie. He slurs R's and needs braces.
    The third was also a binky user. No braces no speech issues. Used the binky much longer than #2.
    The last but not least sucks her first two fingers. Didi not actually start this till last year at age two (we moved for the first time in her life).So far the only speech issue is getting her to stop talking. Teeth look fine but are baby teeth. Time will tell.

  66. La Nina sucked her fingers compulsively until Jun 16, of last year. I remember the date because we ended up in ER with a badly infected finger, which had to be numbed, then drained, then she went on antibiotics for two weeks. It was quite traumatic. The doctor told her that if she sucked her fingers again she'd probably get another infection. And the fear of the pain ended her sucking issue once and for all.

    When I was worried, I read that if you (i.e.Mom) makes a big deal of the thumb/finger sucking, then it makes the kids more determined. That if you lay low, then you can be their ally when they decide to do it on their own. It definitely worked that way for me. When she was struggling, she was willing to talk to me about how hard it was and we celebrated the little milestones. One week, no fingers, one month no fingers and even now she'll ask how long it's been.

    We still catch her sucking her fingers when she's asleep, but I've never seen her do it while she's awake. Just my experience. Good luck.