My Daughter Sucks Her Thumb & That's OK With Me


I sucked my thumb for the first 12 years of my life. And even though it has lost its appeal now that I am in my 30s, there are still moments when I am stressed and go to put it in my mouth. My husband laughs because when I watch TV, I still suck on just the tip. It's unconscious and not nearly as forceful as it was when I was 7, but old habits die hard. And sucking one's thumb is a doozy.

I'm not alone. One in 10 ADULTS still sucks their whole thumb (not just the tip), including singer Rihanna. My daughter, nearly 5, is also just as committed to the habit with no signs of slowing down. And as a former thumb-sucker myself, I can't bring myself to stop her.

Her dentist told us there is no massive hurry, but she ought to be done with it before her adult teeth start coming in, and that could be soon. As someone who endured years of painful (and expensive) orthodontics, I should know better.

But I can't help it. I remember how soothing it is and I hate to take it away from her. We thumb-suckers are a crowd who know one another anywhere. Shel Silverstein wrote our battle cry:

Oh the thumbsucker's thumb may be wrinkled and wet

And withered as white as the snow

But the taste of the thumb

Is the sweetest taste yet

As only we thumbsuckers know.

Indeed. Anyone who hasn't sucked their thumb really has no idea. I can remember the way my thumb seemed to fit perfectly in my mouth. It was as if (in my young mind) it was made to go there. My mother tried nail polishes and Tabasco sauce and bribery and everything else to get me to stop. I would (or could?) not.

It wasn't until I had my braces that I finally gave it up. I was in seventh grade.

When my daughter sucks her thumb, a calm comes over her that almost nothing else could provide. If it were a binky or bottle, I would merely take it away, but since it's her thumb, that's impossible. We haven't worked too hard on her (yet) to get her to stop, though there is an American Girl doll she wants to add to her collection, and we've told her she can't have it until she stops with the thumb.

It hasn't worked. And I'm in no hurry to force her to be done with it. It's just too soothing for her. My daughter (like me) has big emotions. She feels things deeply and has very high highs and very low lows. For her, the thumb helps regulate that. And until we have a good substitute, I'm not ready to force her to let it go.

She will (as I remember) learn to stop sucking her thumb in front of other people at some point while she is in school. It becomes embarrassing. It will naturally stop. Hopefully, anyway. Hopefully she won't be one of the adults still sucking her thumb and destroying her teeth. But she has plenty of time before adulthood and I'm not going to take away something that is so soothing for her.

A set of $5,000 braces seems a small price to pay for her happiness now.

Does your child suck his or her thumb? How did they stop?


girls, activities


To add a comment, please log in with

Use Your CafeMom Profile

Join CafeMom or Log in to your CafeMom account. CafeMom members can keep track of their comments.

Join CafeMom or Log in to your CafeMom account. CafeMom members can keep track of their comments.

Comment As a Guest

Guest comments are moderated and will not appear immediately.

Melis... Melissa042807

My son is 21 months old and a die-hard thumbsucker. We tried - we really tried! - to get him hooked on the pacifier when he was a baby, because at least you can take a pacifier away. The thumb is always there. We're not sure yet how we're going to deal with the habit but we'll cross that bridge when we come to it. Right now there are bigger fish to fry.

poshkat poshkat

my DS is 4.5 and sucks his thumb. the dentist said it may effect him later so not to worry too much, there is no way im taking his comfort away from him.

mrssu... mrssundin

Thumbsucking is a nasty gross habit that causes health issues later on. I would make your daughter stop now before massive teasing affects her mental state.

Stacey. Stacey.

I am 23 and still sleep w/ my baby blanket. My daughter doesnt suck her thumb, but she has a lovey, and she can have it to sllep with as long as she wants. Even as an adult when I bury my face in my blankie its super relaxing and reminds me of the comfort I felt as a child.

Rachel Schiller

My 4 month old is a thumb sucker and it is so cute. I know I should be discouraging it but I just can't get past the cuteness of it. He is destined for orthodonitcs anyway so I'm not too worried.

Samantha Tabankin Johnson

My daughter is in 2nd grade and still sucks her thumb. She doesn't do it in front of most friends, and never has at school. If it makes her happy or gives her peace, why should I rush to take that away from her? Parents seem to be in such a rush to deny children being children so they grow up as soon as possible.

ChicH... ChicHippie

My son is 3 1/2 months and has sucked his thumb since he was in utero. I don't plan on trying to stop it.. he has enough to deal with and I feel it will resolve itself. I have a friend who's 25, married, and in med school who still sucks her thumb at night. She learned, like most kids, not to do it in front of others when she started school. I think nail biting is a much worse habit...

Saraj... Sarajesse

I sucked my thumb until I was 21 in private only then one day I didnt soothe the way it used to. I have had no dental problems and no braces due to this. Def coulndnt tell unless I told ya

Beths... Bethsunshine

My kids never sucked their thumbs, they had pacifiers which I took away the day before their first birthday. My husband's niece sucked her thumb until she was 9 years old, and it ruined her teeth. I know a young man who sucked his thumb until he went to Marine boot camp. He figured out a way to wrap himself up in the blankets so that he couldn't get his thumb out. I can't imagine what those other recruits and the DI would have done to him if they had seen him sucking his thumb. He has horrible buck teeth.

Amand... Amanda_Jeanne

I was a thumb sucker for the longest time... and never needed braces or other major orthodontic work besides twice annual cleanings. The only issue the dentist ever mentioned was that the roof of my mouth was being pushed up a bit higher because of my thumb sucking, but it wasn't anything horrible. I would like to know what "serious health issues later on" are caused by thumb sucking as a PP mentioned... as I haven't had any other health issues, either!

1-10 of 81 comments 12345 Last