Do you have a thumb-sucking toddler, too?

In my 20th week ultrasound picture, I saw it: A thumb in my child’s mouth. It was cute then. It was, as my OB said, something that most babies do when discovering parts of their body in utero. When she was born, she didn’t suck her thumb, but by three months, she did. “It’s just her way of self-soothing,” said her pediatrician. “It’s natural and she’ll be done with it within a few months.

A few months came and went and my toddler was still sucking her thumb. I wasn’t worried, however, because I believed as my pediatrician told me that she would stop when she was ready. And because I thought my daughter and I were on the same page, I thought we’d be done by the time she was six months, or maybe 12 months, or… I’m not really sure. I just knew that our whole “thing” with her thumb would end soon.

But then six months came and went. And twelve months came and went. Then eighteen months came and went. Then twenty-four months came and went. And…she was still sucking her thumb. By two, she had practically all of her baby teeth, so I began to have some concerns about the effects of her thumb on her beautiful smile. And my concerns were validated at her first dentist appointment that came at twenty-six month.

“You’ve got to get her to stop,” said our dentist. She then proceeded to talk about jaw lines and some 40-year-old thumb-sucking patient that she once had who can no longer chew cheese. I was panicked, but calm when I asked, “But how?” To this she suggested hot sauce, tape, anything that could make her want to stop the habit. And if we don’t stop, she said in so many words, we would have a 40-year thumb sucker on our hands who would be unable to chew cheese.

If nothing else, I want my baby to grow up to chew cheese, so we must do something, right? So we need her to stop, but all the dentists’ suggested methods haven’t worked. Now, along with craving hot sauce, she likes to get taped thumbs for her “boo boos.”

So, what now?

Do you have a thumb-sucking toddler? Have you staged an “intervention” or do you plan to wait it out?



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Jessica lives in the Washington, DC metropolitan area with her husband and two girls. Once upon a time, pre-motherhood, she did many things as a “serious-looking” woman who managed to successfully balance a reality TV addiction with a career and academic pursuits. She's now a serious-acting woman whose primary job is raising her children. She writes, reads, fantasizes about minivans, and takes midday naps. She enjoys (among many other things) dancing to 80s music, photography, laughing out loud (at, usually, inappropriate moments), and writing about writing, being a writer, and becoming fearless on her blog Jessica F. Hinton

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8 Comments on "Do you have a thumb-sucking toddler, too?"

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Google Thumbuddy To Love….great product to help children stop thumb sucking and kids love it!


Thank you for all of your wonderful suggestions! I really like the braided necklace idea! Awesome! @Sarah She usually just keeps it in her mouth at nap or bedtime to go to sleep, but it usually slides out when she’s fast asleep. During the day, it’s only in her mouth when she’s tired or doing something boring. I try to keep her entertained, so that daytime sucking hasn’t been as much of a “problem.”

Your dentist is WAY over the top. I will give you that how much your child sucks is a variable to take into account. Does she talk well? Does she keep it out of her mouth most of the time, but it slides in when tired, upset or bored? Our 4 yo still sucks, when she’s tired mostly (and bored, like in the car). My husband listened to the dentist and started to push her to stop – but tell a 4 yo to stop doing something is asking for a power struggle! The pediatrician told us that it’s not… Read more »
They sell this bitter stuff that you can paint on her nail, but you have to apply it several times a day. So kids apparently end up liking it so it may not work. You also should have a great prize at the end for stopping. My sister bribed 3 of her girls with piering their ears. My good friend just bribed her daughter with an American Girls doll. The combo can do it, but a 2 year old is a bit young for long term bribing. Also, your dentist might be a bit over the top. You need to… Read more »
Oh the dentist is ridiculous! As long as your child doesn’t do in constantly, if she stops beforekindergarten she should be fine, unless there is a genetic predisposition to oral issues. My parents had 5 kids who all sucked their thumbs but all but 1 grew out of it early on. The one that still did it, snuck it later into teen years. This sibiling of mine has mild overbite, a little more protruding in the very front. I know two people that suck their thumbs as adults and they have severe palate and dental malformations from it. My child… Read more »
My kids never sucked their thumbs but several of my preschool kids have. I have only tried this with 4 and up kids, not younger, but everytime it has worked wonders. First I waited till the parents were done with the thumb sucking, and had their permission. I would make a braided necklace for the child to wear and then I would tie 10 bows around the necklace. I would tell them that it was time to stop sucking their thumb, but we would make it easy to learn. Each time I saw them doing it I would take off… Read more »
our youngest was a BIG thumb sucker. He sucked his thumb until we found a way to make him stop. Our dentist sold us a product called “Mavala Stop”. It is a nail paint that tastes super yucky that you can buy on Amazon. We waited until he was SLEEPING and painted it on both his thumbs and 2 other random finger nails. The dentist then gave him a chart to mark his progress for a month. When he didn’t suck his thumb for 30 days total he got a prize at the dentist office. The very first day we… Read more »
Tiffany S

One step ahead sells a “thumb shield”, EXPENSIVE!!! But then again so are braces!