When we took our two year old daughter to get advise about her 90% cured Erb's Palsy, the doc noticed her thumb-sucking habit and advised us to see that she stops doing so.
Our daughter sucks her thumb while falling asleep. She resists our efforts to wean her from the habit with all her might. When she senses my ire regarding this matter, she slowly goes out of my sight (like gliding to the other side of the bed, lying low behind her mother, avoiding eye contact with me), and starts sucking her thumb again!
We were never harsh on her for anything and we would never intend to do so.
Everybody seems to think that thumbsucking leads to buck teeth or dental problems - it doesn't. I have 4 kids. Two were thumbsuckers, 1 sucked on his blanket and the other sucked on her middle two fingers. She did this until she was 6 or 7, usually when she was tired. She even had calluses on her fingers from it. She eventually quit, but not because of anything we did - she just quit on her own. We tried to make her quit, but nothing worked until she was ready. There is nothing wrong with any of their teeth by the way. I wouldn't worry about it too much. There are worse things they could be doing than comforting themselves. You can get the child to stop doing it in public, but they'll always do it when nobody is watching.
Your going to probably get many different opinions on this. My cousin is 3 (the same age as my son) and she actively sucks her thumb. My uncle is an orthodontist and is upset over the condition of her bite. Her teeth now stick out a bit in front and are worn away where her thumb sits. She looks ridiculous. The last poster may not have had any side effects from the thumb sucking with her children, but it is possible to have dental problems from it. My sister has terrible bite issues and it took years and a lot of money to correct it. 2 is a hard age to put an end to it, but you may just try constant reminding. You could also try the "nail biter" stuff. My mom used it on my sister and it put an end to it. It makes their nails taste horribly sour and it's safe. Good luck!
I have a daughter who was a thumb-sucker as well. Was actually a wonderful baby/toddler as she was always able to passify herself.
When she was 2-3 I told her thumb sucking wasn't acceptable in public where others could see her. She would "massage" it instead! Whatever worked.
Eventually she did outgrow it. There is no way you can prevent thumb sucking; you can't cut it off and throw it away. And by the way, her teeth, through elementary, were very forward, sticking out and turned.
Now, without braces, are perfect! Maybe got lucky there.
Your daughter will eventually stop when the time is right for her.
I personally wouldn't worry over this. There's too many other things to worry about as they grow.
Yes, you will get many different opinions on this.
Mine is (and I base this on Dr. Braselton): don't worry about it age 2. Being 2 is stressful enough that you shouldn't try to remove anything that they do to self-comfort at that age. Wait until she is 3 before you even start to think about stopping this behavior.
My own personal opinion is to wait until she's 5.
Last edited by index.html; 05-14-2007 at 12:22 PM.
I don't see a problem with a 2 year old still sucking her thumb. But if you're really concerned, maybe try to give her something else as her "comfort mechanism." Maybe try to introduce a stuffed animal that she can hug instead.
I'm for thumbsucking over a pacifier, for sure. I would rather see a thumb in the mouth of a two year old than a pacifier. That's just my opinion.
Anyway, my now four year old sucked her thumb starting at 12 weeks old and sucked it all the time. As a toddler, she sucked it while watching tv, driving in the car, falling asleep, walking through the house, etc. I brought it up to her doctor when she was maybe 3. She advised us to let it go. She told me the best time to wait was when she was five. Our dentist didn't push it either. Our doctor also gave me some literature about it which really made in impact on me. It said to also wait until she was five and to let it be the child's decision. You cannot make it a battle ground. If you do, you'll be sure to lose. You can't win when it comes to the thumb. So the more you stress about it, the worse it will become. So we let her go. Never said a thing. In fact, it annoyed me when other people, especially strangers, would. And truthfully, I loved that she sucked it as a baby (my one year old son does it now) because it makes for wonderful sleeping!!!
Anyway, at about 4.5 years old I decided that maybe we needed to start talking about stopping. I told her that it was something she needed to start thinking about. She will be in kindergarten next year and I told her it would make be sad if someone made fun of her. I showed her how it was changing her smile. I told her she could do it when she was ready. And then this did it...I told her what a huge accomplishment it would be if she did and that Mommy and Daddy would reward her for it if she could totally stop. For as much as she did it, she deserved a reward for stopping. Call it a bribe, but it worked. We put a band-aide on her finger to remind her and the habitual thumbsucker stopped cold-turkey. She wore the band-aide for about a week and that was that. ALL DONE! It was so easy and that's because we ultimately left it up to her and didn't bug her all these years. She wasn't like "here we go again with that thumb thing" We just encouraged her to stop and she was mature enough to handle it.
After she stopped you could tell she had been a thumbsucker, but now 7 months later, you would never know. Her teeth are beautiful.
So, let her suck her thumb, especially at 2 years old. Gosh, you see MANY kids with pacifiers hanging out of their mouths all the time that are that age and older. I had a neighbor once whose son's pacifier was so big it looked like a doorknob. I say wait!
I was a thumb sucker until I was in first grade. As I got older I only did it when i was very tired. I had to have braces in the first grade due to bone growth (not to correct straightness of teeth). My parents tried everything to get me to stop....I learned that all the nasty tasting stuff would wear off quickly. The only thing that got me to stop was my dad telling me I would have to wear braces for a very long time if I didn't quit. He timed it just right...after the braces had been tightened. I quit cold turkey.
So, until your child is a bit older you probably won't be able to stop the habit. I will say that you should be thankful your little one is not a pacifier user as that is way more repulsive than thumb sucking....at least the parent's have control over that.