Thursday, August 12, 2010


With 8 weeks our son discovered his thumb and has ever since used it to comfort himself in all sorts of situations. Every time a stranger is looking into our pram we get the same line with some sort of criticism in their voice "Oh, a thumb sucker!"

The first few times I felt weird and a bit uncomfortable just because the word itself has this negative touch to it. And of course because of the old fairy tale about the "Thumb sucker" who gets his thumb cut off with scissors because he wouldn't stop sucking it himself.

When walking pass a mother with her son the other day, the son clearly old enough to walk by himself and talk but with a big pacifier in his mouth I wondered, why this is not weird to anybody. How come something natural became something negative and something modern and plastic we accept just like that?

Once when talking about Pikler parenting classes a woman said that she has attended such class before and was shocked because she has never seen so many children sucking their thumbs or blankets before. When I attended some breastfeeding classes I thought the opposite - 90% of the children there had a pacifier in their mouth and most of them got it put in by their mothers when they started making "noises" like squeaking or babytalking.

I have to admit that sometimes it was hard before Leander was able to use his own thumb to comfort himself. But it was worth the wait. At night when he wakes up he does not cry for us to come and help him go back to sleep (unless he is hungry). Mr. thumb helps him do that. During the day whenever something is bothering him Mr. thumb is there. That doesn't mean - like some women presume - he has given up on us. When he's hungry, wet or can't get some rest by himself he will call for our help and we are there. It just means that he is not crying in every situation he is not feeling happy in. This has made our day a lot more quiet and easier too, when he cries I usually know exactly what's up because it must be something Mr. thumb can't help with.
And sometimes in the pram when on a cobble stone street makes Mr. thumb pops out of his mouth he can get him back in no time and does not need us to pop him back in. This is very helpful until he can actively grab for stuff around him.

So yes - our son is a thumb sucker. And that makes life much more comfortable. For all of us.


  1. Nadine, This is so lovely! Congratulations, Leander, on your accomplishments! It's only the beginning of a life in which you are bound to proceed capably and self-confidently! (And hopefully, you'll give up the thumb at a younger age than I did.)

  2. The only thing I ever worried about was that after a child no longer needs a pacifier, she can be weaned off of it. However, there is no way of taking a thumb away from a child... Doesn't this cause the behavior to continue to an unhealthy age? Just looking for your opinion on this!

  3. Nadine - i am a little jealous. My (now 14 mo old)baby used a pacifier early (she is still successfully breastfed, no problem there) because, honestly, i didn't know how to soothe her all the time. And now, she doesn't seem to need it but if it is around, she will use it - but i've always hoped that she would find her own soothing techniques in there somewhere (be it thumb, fingers, singing to herself, etc)...i'm still hoping.

    As for longterm thumb issues - who cares? How is it unhealthy to know how to soothe yourself? Most kids, hopefully, won't need constant physical soothing as they age - peer pressure will also stem thumb use, but if they need it, then let them do it. If teeth are the concern - they can be repaired; a broken psyche is a lot harder with to cope.

    Thank you for your great lovely blog, too!

  4. My daughter also sucked her thumb from week 8 and started sleeping through from week 9. It was an amzing gift to us! At 23 months she still sucks when she is falling asleep, stressed or bored. I'm not worried about weaning her off, as I trust her to do it as and when she is ready. I dont know of many teens who still sucks their thumbs, but there is always the small risk. A risk worth taking for many sleepful nights for all of us over the last two years!!