Thumb Sucking

Updated on June 10, 2008
T.K. asks from Mesa, AZ
8 answers

Big 4 month old son found his thumb and has been sucking it constantly for a couple weeks now. I am an anti-thumb sucker and never in a million years thought I'd have to deal with it, but I do. He gets so upset everytime I take his thumb out of his mouth and will literally suck on it ALL DAY LONG. My question is: How do you get a little one that is so young to stop sucking their thumb. I know there are techniques (hot sauce, etc) but aren't those more for older children? I don't want to put salsa on my sons thumb, but I can't reason with him either. Anyone out there have any ideas on how to break him of this habit.

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answers from Philadelphia on

Just a thought... Maybe mittens/socks to cover his little hands? I personally did not have this happen to my 8 month old daughter, I was surprised because I really thought all babies sucked either a pacifier or a finger/thumb but she has not done that. I was prepared with the mittens though!! Good luck I hope this works or he just may grow out of it before too long.
I had to edit this because come to think of it she loves tags! She will chew on tags that are attached to anything. WalMart has little blankets that have these tag style fabric sewn onto a small 12x12 inch fabric that is so soft and it comes in pinks and blues. My daughter has both colors and she loves those so much she chews the "tags" on those all the time. Who knows that might help.



answers from Phoenix on

Hello T.,

No offense, but I don't think there is anything you can do about until he gets older. Even the mittens or socks on thier hands will not stop him. He will end up just sucking on the mittens/socks to get to his thumb or be cranky trying to get to his thumb. My daughter is a 3rd generation thumb sucker. I have ultrasound pictures of her sucking her thumb in my tummy. My mother said the first thing I did when I was born was put my thumb in my mouth and even the doctor was in aww about it. My grandmother said my mom sucked her thumb as a child too.

My mother tried everything to get me to stop, hot sauce, ducktape, yucky nail polish they sell at the store, she even tried holding my thumb out of my mouth everytime she saw me suck it.I think if someone knew how to get a child to stop sucking thier thumb she would have found it. She did try all of these things when I was 2-3 years of age also. The last thing my mother taught me to do that actually worked was accepting that I was a thumb sucker and to only suck my thumb at bedtime, or only around my family. I did stop sucking my thumb in public at 3 and eventually stop sucking at 7.

My daughter is 10 months old and probably around 12 to 18 months will I start to TRY to get her to suck only at night and such, but honestly besides the sucking she is a awesome baby. SHe started sleeping through the night at 8-9 weeks(8 hours) anbd now sleeps at least 12 hours at night and 2 naps a day. My son( a paci baby) didn't really sleep through the night well until 10 months. He was up at least twice a night until then.He cried a lot too. My daughter, if she falls, she cries for a sec then puts her thumb in and a second later is ready to go play again.

I'm not sure if any of this helps, but maybe some things we can change about our children and others we cannot. Who really knows?? As for the sucking of the thumb can be annoying, but I think it is age appropriate for him, nbow if he's 4 and sucking his thumb thne you have a REAL problem, but he's still a baby, let him be. Good luck!!


SAHM of a 3 1/2 year old boy and a 10 month old little girl!!



answers from Phoenix on

Hi T.,
I know exactly how you feel! I have a two month old who will suck her thumb when she is getting hungry and no matter how many times I pull it out so finds it again. I think this young the options are very limited though...I realize that this was no help to you but just wanted to let you know your not alone :)



answers from Phoenix on

I am not sure that there is anything to do. If anyone has any ideas, I would love to hear them as well. I know exactly what you are going through, my youngest (1yr) is also a thumb sucker. He started sucking his thumb at about 3 weeks old. I tried to take it out and put a pacifier in but he would just spit that out and put his thumb back. we were constantly in this battle. I finally just gave in and he has been sucking his thumb ever since. I HATE IT!!!! But I have no ideas of what to do. MY older son took a pacifier and it was super easy to take it away when he was about 15 months, but how do you get rid of the thumb? Anyway, like I said, I feel your pain. If you find something that works, I would love to hear it! Good luck!



answers from Phoenix on

I posted a similar question a few months back and got some great responses.

Like you, I have always been against thumb-sucking but my soon to be 11 month old son is still doing it and I've just decided to let him alone. As he has gotten older he has been doing it less frequently-- he went from sucking it every second of the day that he wasn't nursing to only doing it when he's tired. I'm hopeful that he'll simply outgrow it. It's a natural soothing mechanism so right now, your son is just learning how to comfort himself. I hope this helps! :)



answers from Phoenix on

I have 4 children and my oldest sucked his thumb at 3 and 4 months and that was it. My daughter sucked her thumb in my uterus every time I had an ultrasound. She sucked her thumb from birth (before birth, really) to age 8 years old. I tried EVERYTHING! My other two didn't suck their thumb. I'm thinking that if you keep pulling his thumb out of his mouth that you can stop it by 12 months. I was told to do that with my daughter but I didn't start until 6 months. Of course, it didn't help with her. I sucked my thumb until I was 8 also...UGH! He will stop eventually...Good luck!


answers from Albuquerque on

Hi T..
Like you are anti-thumb, I'm anti-pacifier. It drives me crazy when I see a two or three (even 4 - egads!) year-old running around with one stuck in their face.

My dilemma, though, was my first son couldn't find his own thumb when he was an infant, so we gave in and would put the pacifier in his mouth if he started losing it in public places (we called it "kryptonite" because it was the only thing to calm "Superman" - lol). Needless to say, because we hardly ever used it, he never got "hooked," but I thought I'd died and gone to heaven when he *finally* was able to find his own thumb!

With our second, we're lucky because he doesn't need the oral stim to calm down, and never wanted a pacifier. He sucks two fingers instead of his thumb, but he doesn't even do *that* very often.

In the end, you may realize your 4 month old is just "wired" to need the thumb for right now. There are plenty of good "tricks" to get him to quit when he's bigger.

Good luck.



answers from Phoenix on

Hi T.,

Sorry to say, there is nothing you can do at such a young age. You will just make your baby cranky and miserable. It is NORMAL for a baby to pacify themselves. The only thing I can suggest to try to limit the amount of time that he does this is distraction. Try to get your baby to grab a toy or something with the hand that he is using to suck with. It still may be too soon, but as he gets older, try to engage in some play with his hands where he is taking his own thumb out of his mouth. I wouldn't make it a big issue.

I can relate. I also have a child that is a thumb sucker. I also have an ultrasound photo of her sucking her thumb! Doctors told us there is nothing we could do but save for braces! She is now 5 and does not do it so much. We will catch her at night sometimes when she is sleeping with her thumb in her mouth, and we pull it out.
Don't make it a big deal even though you hate it. It has nothing to do with you. It will get less frequent as he gets older and mobil and can engage in other activities. Just love him for who he is. Good Luck!

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