Our babies are thumbsuckers.
I wasn’t planning on having two thumb sucking babies, but now I do. I used pacifiers as a baby. I am pro-pacifier. And am pretty anti-thumb. But here we are, with two thumb sucking babies, who will pull the pacifier out in order to make way for the thumb.
There are some benefits to thumb sucking. Self-soothing is a HUGE benefit. I can only be in one place at a time. If the babies can soothe themselves then it definitely makes my life a lot easier (and theirs, I assume). Tonight, during Apple’s bath, Banana was crying until she started sucking her thumb. Then she was calm. Sigh. The fact that they always have their thumb is another benefit.
I personally find thumb sucking kind of yucky (to put it mildly). Watching my children suck their thumbs reminds me of when I was in elementary school and would see the kids who sucked their thumbs then touch something that I was going to touch. And they would touch it with their wet, slobbery, pruney, germy fingers. And now my babies touch me with their wet, slobbery fingers (hopefully not germy!).
Also, they are going to crawl someday and then they will put their hands on the ground. Then they will sit up and put their thumbs – which was just on the ground – right into their mouths. Sigh. I know they will put toys and other things that are on the ground into their mouths, too. But there is something about the thumb.
I kind of really don’t like watching my children put their thumbs in their mouths and then suck suck suck. I will admit there is another reason I don’t like it. I kind of hate that they are willing to suck on their thumb but were refusing my breast. There, I’ll say it. Trying to get them to breast feed and watching them scream and twist away from me was painful, and now they will stick their thumbs in their mouths and suck away. I know this is unrelated. And I also know the babies still root around trying to breast feed when I snuggle them – even though we haven’t done it in a month (breaks my heart every time).
But mostly, I think of germs, and of everything they touch being wet with their saliva and it is so yucky. I just have a gut reaction to it.
But even above ALL of that, practically speaking, pacifiers are easier to stop the habit. You can just not buy any replacement pacifiers and as the pacifiers are lost they are lost. That’s what my mom did with me. One day my last pacifier was gone and that was it. Or you can offer other incentives to lose the pacifier. The point is, the pacifier is not an extension of their bodies and can disappear one way or another. The thumb, on the other hand, is always around. And there are studies that show that kids who haven’t dropped the finger-sucking habit by the time they get to elementary school tend to have social problems (self esteem / social anxiety around not being able to control their thumb sucking).
Ugh and I know all about habits like that. I pick my skin and bite my nails. I hate it. I can’t stop it. I don’t even know I’m doing it sometimes, I just look down and realize I have been picking at my skin and try to stop myself. I’ve been doing it since I was 6 years old and I just can’t stop it. I don’t want my kids to have a habit like that!
I don’t know how to stop it from happening, though. And I don’t know if that is a battle I want to fight. Like I said, I do like that they can soothe themselves, since I am alone with them for 95% of their waking hours. And I am pretty sure that when they fuss in the crib they are putting themselves back to sleep by sucking their thumbs (they are now completely unswaddled). I can’t stop them from sucking their thumbs in their sleep. I offer them the pacifier when they are upset but they will spit it out and put in the thumb. I don’t have the energy to be vigilant about giving them pacifiers instead of thumbs.
So, okay. Our children suck their thumbs. They also generally sleep well and don’t cry much except in the evening when they are usually a little overtired. I can’t really complain too much, I guess.