Nighttime Thumb-sucker--would a Binky/pacifier Be Preferable...?

Updated on June 08, 2019
E.M. asks from San Jose, CA
10 answers

Hi all!

So, I thought I'd put a question to the wisdom of you knowledgeable ladies--after I'd discussed this earlier with a few family members of mine.

My oldest (4yo) DS has for about the past 6 months or so has taken to sucking his thumb at bedtime. He regularly goes to the dentist, and we've been told it's not at all a major issue, for right now (because usually his thumb isn't in his mouth for long once he's asleep).

However, after having a talk about it with a trusted co-worker of mine--I thought I'd pose a question to you folks:

Would it be at all beneficial/worth it to ask DS if he'd be willing to switch to a--hopefully *clean*-- pacifier/soother at night, instead of his thumb?

He's never before gotten sick from anything yucky on his thumb--as DH or myself are always good about making sure they're bathed and clean before bed. But, two experienced mothers have now suggested this to me...What do you all think..?

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answers from Pittsburgh on

He's 4. I think the paci ship has sailed. As long as he goes to bed relatively clean, I wouldn't worry about it.

6 moms found this helpful

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answers from Norfolk on

At 4 yrs old he won't switch to a pacifier.
He's self soothing himself to sleep and there's nothing wrong with him using his thumb.
He'll most likely out grow it soon or within a few years.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

why would his thumb be inherently more yucky than whatever can get gummed onto a pacifier?

i never fussed much at my thumbsuckers, and they gave it up on their own with no coercion from me.

i assumed your question would be about that.

i mean- can't you just help him wash his hands before bedtime?


5 moms found this helpful


answers from Minneapolis on

He’s self soothing in a harmless way, so just let him be. Don’t discuss with relatives or coworkers, just quietly ignore it. You said he is the oldest at age 4 so give him a bit more one on one attention.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Springfield on

The issue with thumb sucking is not about hygiene (although it can't hurt to make sure he washes his hands before bed), it's about the position of his teeth. If he sucks his thumb, it's very possible he could cause his teeth to reposition or grow in incorrectly. Switching to a pacifier would not change that. Pacifiers can cause problems in teeth, also.

If the dentist isn't concerned, you shouldn't be either. If he sucks his thumb in order to fall asleep and his thumb generally falls out shortly after he falls asleep, I definitely wouldn't worry about it.

I really wouldn't even worry about the hygiene issue. Honestly, many kids growing up right now are too clean (although, I think we are getting better). When we work too hard to keep their environment sterile, we prevent the good bacteria from playing it's role in their bodies and we begin to create problems with kids being even more susceptible to germs.

Really, I'd just leave this alone unless the dentist does say it's becoming a problem.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

no way would I start giving a pacifier to my child at the age of six.

if you don't feel comfortable with what your dentist said? Then you need to seek out a second opinion. that would be the wisest thing to do,

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

I haven't come across kids taking up thumb sucking as kiddos (usually babies). I wouldn't encourage it period - pacifier or thumb. What is benefit of switching to pacifier? Sorry, don't follow.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

I would not. At this point he probably would not take one if he is a thumb sucker. But if he will you take the chance of him getting attached and doing both. With a pacifier it can get lost and then you deal with the headache of not having it when he needs to sleep. His hand is always with him. And like others have said the hand in not any less dirt than pacifiers.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Muncie on

Both of my children needed to self sooth at night. My son was a thumb sucker and my daughter sucked her fingers. My son simply stopped on his own at age 5. My daughter was not stopping on her own and the roof of her mouth was getting messed up. In Kindergarten we finally agreed to have an appliance installed on her upper teeth that wouldn’t allow her to suck her fingers. She stopped and didn’t restart after it was removed. Her teeth are the best in the family and she didn’t need braces. Just relax and trust the professionals, your dentist and pediatrician. BTW, both of my children never liked pacifiers and I am grateful for that.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

You should be happy he can self soothe himself. I would not switch to a pacifier. One day he will give it up. It’s not a biggie especially because it’s only at night.

1 mom found this helpful
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