Thumbs vs. Pacifiers

When Frances was 3 weeks old we started giving her a pacifier. Even as brand new parents we could tell she needed to comfort suck, and feeding on demand was giving her a lactose overload. She would gladly take the pacifier but as soon as she’d start to relax the pacifier would fall out of her mouth and she’d start crying again. After a few days we tired of this game and stopped. I was reading the archives and saw that Joy had better luck with pacifiers.

Thumb Sucking Practice

Thumb Sucking Practice

In the absence of a pacifier, Frances continued sucking on her whole fist to self-sooth. This produced a sound so loud, I swear you could hear it next door. I don’t think she was happy with it either. I half-heartedly tried to show her how to suck her thumb a few times, but I wasn’t sure it was a good idea. I mean, it’s just a bad habit to have to break later, right?

Well, her grandmother thought it might be time to try the thumb again and Frances took to it right away (although it was a few days before she mastered it). Now she happily sucks away when she’s falling asleep and is sleeping even longer stretches at night. Are we going to live to regret this?

Did you encourage your baby to use a pacifier or suck her thumb?


  1. My baby learned how to suck her thumb when she was 2.5 months old and from that point on, she slept through the night. Before that, I tried to give her pacis, but she refused them. When I weaned her from the bottle around 12 months, her thumb sucking increased dramatically, so looking back, I wish I would have waited a bit longer to wean her. Now, at 18 months, she still loves to suck her thumb when she is tired, bored, or stressed. I am hoping that she will stop on her own as she gets a bit older. I’m planning to ignore it as much as possible. I guess we’ll see…

  2. I like the new look of this site! Do I know the photographer by any chance?

  3. I do like the new banner.

  4. Michele says:

    Carrie, I think ignoring it sounds like a good idea so it doesn’t become a big “issue”. I don’t want to make it a bigger deal then it is.

    Nancy, I’m glad you like the new site! But no, I don’t think you know the photographer since even I don’t!

  5. I sucked my fingers as a child. It can be hard to wean a kid off of that! I had to have professional intervention at age 4 or 5 when my unusual way of sucking my fingers was starting to give me an overbite. Fortunately I think that sucking a thumb is not so dangerous for the orthodontia. The other good news is that one session with some sort of child psychologist or dental therapist (?) cured me of the finger sucking.

  6. Gina, do you remember the session with the therapist? I’m curious as to what she said to you that “cured” you.

  7. My oldest starting sucking her thumb around 4 months and it also increased after I weaned her at 13 months due to pregnancy. She is almost 5 and still sucks her thumb at night or when she’s uncomfortable. I tried to get my youngest to use both a pacifier and her thumb, to no avail.

  8. Gina, I think you are remembering that wrong. I thought you had a whole month’s worth of therapy. There was a party at the end when you made it. I wasn’t invited. NOT FAIR!

  9. Before my daughter turned 4 I told her that when she turned 4 she couldn’t suck her thumb anymore. The day after, she started to put her thumb to her mouth, looked at it, and started sucking her index finger instead.

  10. Deb, that’s one smart cookie! Hilarious!

  11. Rebecca, I had no idea you were still holding a grudge about that party after more than 30 years! As a matter of fact, I do remember the therapy session, sort of. The therapist mentioned a friend of mine (Colleen) who had recently stopped sucking her thumb, and also dropped the information that the friend had gotten some sort of prize at the end of a certain period of time of not sucking her thumb. It was a very vivid visual for me of my friend being able to do it, and me getting the prize. I got a gold star on a calendar every day that I didn’t suck my fingers. I thought that it was three months, but maybe it just seemed like that because I was a kid. I remember the prize being a toy train that we used to have for going around the Christmas tree. Rebecca seems to remember it as a big party that she wasn’t invited to. Maybe it was both! Lucky me!

  12. Michele says:

    Gina, I asked your dad about it and he mentioned the train set prize. He also said that you talked with the therapist regularly on the phone to discuss your progress and such, but doesn’t remember a party.

Speak Your Mind