the great thumb sucking debate

Richard and I had given in to the idea of Miriam being a thumb sucker. She seemed to have her heart set on it and for days it appeared as though she had mastered the skill. I had some reservations but it is so darling  and convenient I gave them little thought. At bedtime and naptime I would place in her in crib, wide awake, and in a matter of seconds, with thumb in mouth, she would be off to dreamland.
Ours was a happy (and well rested) home.
Then the dynamic changed in a strangely coincidental way.
I am dental hygienist and therefore somewhat familiar with all things oral, including the repercussions of thumb sucking. At work on Monday I made the obvious mistake of bringing up her habit in the company of my dentist-boss. He gave me a disapproving (but understanding since he has children too) glance. I asked him straight out if it was his professional opinion that I should stop my precious baby from sucking her thumb.
“Break the habit now.” He said without hesitation.
A coworker must have seen my well-rested being droop in disappointment and she responded.
“Don’t worry Jo, that is what orthodontists are for!”
For hours I thought of the cruel methods by which I could prevent Miriam from perpetuating this bad habit. Making her wear those little baby mittens or putting that icky stuff on her tiny thumb. It all seemed too awful. By the end of the day I had determined I could not rob her of that peaceful place she resides with thumb in mouth. Even at the risk of orthodontics. Statistically speaking she is likely to need them anyway.
Then on Tuesday Miriam quit sucking her thumb. It was as though she had forgotten how. All of the sudden she relied once again on the binky. That meant every nap and bedtime involved frequent intermissions where I had to return the binky to her wanting lips. So much for well-rested. Midnight trips to her bedroom to replace the binky were disrupting my once blissful sleep cycles.

I know I should have been grateful that she voluntarily gave up.  The goal was accomplished without my having to execute any of the cruel antics I had been  imagining.  Nevertheless, I was crestfallen.

This morning I put her down for a nap and knowing that she would cry as soon as her binky fell out I retreated to the shower where I could not hear her sadness. When I returned to check on her, I found her fast asleep with thumb in mouth.
I can not say for sure that she will return to her old ways. Perhaps it is another phase. Secretely (or I guess it is no secret anymore) I am hoping she resumes her self-soothing.  What I can’t decide is if my desire for her to suck her thumb is entirely selfish, or only just 50% selfish. 
I guess I’ll just go with it. See what happens. And be sure to keep it a secret from my dentist-boss.

6 thoughts on “the great thumb sucking debate

  1. Asher is a thumb-sucker, too. He NEVER took a binky. My opinion? Oh well, we'll figure it out later. No sense in worrying now, he doesn't have any teeth! (Plus, you're right, it's ABSOLUTELY ADORABLE.)


  2. Did you know there are actually experts in thumb and finger sucking? They say that thumb sucking actually produces endorphins that calm the body and bring satisfaction kind of like how we feel after eating a big meal. I wouldn't worry about her thumb sucking habits until she is about 5 years old and there is a good chance she will have kicked the habit on her own by then!Oh, and I was a thumb sucker too. My mom said I was the best baby out of her 6 kids. I had the ability to calm myself with my thumb whereas my siblings didn't.


  3. She is adorable! I love pictures of baby thumb suckers. Taylee was a thumb sucker. We were actually able to kick the habit, much easier than I thought, when she turned 3. I truly believe that having a thumb sucker and good sleep for the first couple years is MUCH better than a baby that can't soothe themselves. Hopefully you can get ortho for a discount/free somewhere. Or maybe you'll get lucky and she won't need it at all. I say hooray for thumb sucking!


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