Saturday, November 8, 2014

Thumb-Sucking & Nap-Dropping

Two kids with their own ideas.

Benjamin has been a thumb-sucker from about 6-months old. 
Claire dropped her morning nap a couple weeks ago at 9-months old. 

She appears to be faring decent without that morning nap, but I'm still in shock because Benjamin had a morning nap until he was 16-months old! And even then, we had to force him into dropping it. With her, she's never had a formal morning nap routine because mornings are dedicated to getting out of the house and engaging in activities like visiting the museum, storytime, preschool, playdates and parks. 

Poor girl never had a fighting chance. By and large, Benjamin sleeps better at night as well (maybe it's the thumb Claire never cared for!). Maybe time will change this, but the toddler loves to sleep. He almost always must be woken up from naps and night sleep. He's a cranky waker (like his mom!), so that's always fun. Claire, on the other hand, wakes on her own and is still waking after about 8 hours of sleep at night for one feed. I do recall Benjamin waking once at night when he was 9-months old, but she just seemed to need less sleep than he ever did. While a bit of a bummer for me not getting a break to get grocery shopping done without one of the kids creating a scene, it's not really an issue; just a difference. It also means I get zero time with Benjamin alone during the day. 

About the thumb-sucking. He's reaching 33-months and still sucking his thumb. That's 27 glorious months of him self-soothing with the magical thumb. As a baby, it was magical. We didn't have to worry about a pacifier falling out of his mouth or getting him to sleep at night. He just sucked his thumb and was a happy little camper. But, now that he's nearly three, we're becoming nervous that he'll turn into the third-grader at school that everyone sort of looks at with disgust. It's not sanitary and it's definitely not doing anything positive for his dental health. He will already need teeth extraction (two supernumerary teeth just like me as a kid) and braces, but I'd prefer he not worsen his overbite and cause his baby teeth to fall out. Our pediatrician at his 2-year appointment told us not to worry about the thumb-sucking until he's three. That's in three months and the thumb-sucking is not slowing down a bit.

We are considering thumb guards, but unless we convince him how cool they are, there's no way he'll keep it on. He will bite it, pull it off, or ruin it. They run from $13-$75 for pieces of latex and plastic that will probably be ripped to shreds by our fervent thumb lover. There's a slight chance we will be able to convince him to wear it, but that's unlikely. Then there's the horribly tasting stuff that gets great reviews but can also cause kids to stop eating (not something we need help with as he eats nothing already!) if the flavor gets on their food. It's supposed to last 2 days without a need for reapplying, so clearly it's powerful and works according to the 2,400+ reviews on the product and nearly 5 perfect stars.

Anyone out there with thumb-suckers? Or even better, former thumb-suckers? 


Amy L. said... [Reply to comment]

My brother and I were both thumb-suckers, both had super mary teeth (which I just found out about last month!), and both required braces for our bucked teeth and overbites. I don't know how our parents got us to stop. Maybe we stopped on our own? I'll ask my mom when I see her tomorrow. Asher still uses a binky for naps and night time sleep, but since HFM has made his mouth so sore, he has wanted nothing to do with them since Tuesday. I'm curious whether he'll go back to them when his mouth sores heal.

Nicole said... [Reply to comment]

I'm a former thumb-sucker. I'm also an oral surgery and grade school TMJ/migraine suffering kid. My mom said that they out a mitten on my hand and I would leave it because I knew sucking my thumb made me have headaches. So basically, I have no advice. Sorry!

Rachel said... [Reply to comment]

I do not have personal experience with this, but have had several friends (who had all tried various other methods) use the T Guard with their children with 100% success.

second floor dweller said... [Reply to comment]

I use the nasty tasting stuff on my fingernails to keep me from biting them (gross, I know). I can't imagine using it on a child. It's truly awful, and lingers on your mouth and lips.

F sucks her thumb still, I think we've had this discussion. It's really just to fall asleep, and then it pops out. She must not suck very hard because her teeth are perfect at almost 5.5 years old and her pediatrician and dentist don't care at all. I bring it up at every appointment, and they brush it off.

I might have a different feeling once she has permanent teeth, although I've known several kids that stopped sucking thumbs when teeth became loose and fell out, so that might happen. I might feel differently, too, if she stood around on the playground with her thumb in her mouth all day. But at night she's clean, and for the most part we wash hands before we leave places, like a restaurant, so if she falls asleep in the car her hands are decently clean.

Just chiming in to say I would NOT do the bitter tasting stuff.

Jenny said... [Reply to comment]

I was a thumb sucker to go to sleep, because my mom misguidedly weaned me at 16 months when she became pregnant with my brother (in the 80's medical advice didn't realize that breastfeeding during pregnancy was A-ok). It started as she weaned me. It really only continued if I was bored or going to sleep. Be aware that oral inclinations are normal, as are 'nervous' energy outlets... like nail biting, hair twisting or chewing, rubbing thumb and forefinger together, etc, at ages 2-5!! It may be that B simply swaps one habit for another. The best bet is daytime distraction or redirection without shaming. Nighttime is a different challenge. For me the icky tasting stuff never worked: the thumb sucking was too soothing and I was stubborn enough to resent my mom for putting the stuff on... and stubborn enough to suck until the taste was gone. What did work for nighttime, involuntary sucking at age 8 (! Daytime was no problem since age 3, but nighttime lingered) was wearing cotton gloves to bed, knowing my mom would reward on a sticker chart in the morning if they were dry when she went to bed and when I awoke, and a really soft bear to touch and rub his ear. The gloves were woven, like for marching band or Easter, and the texture wasn't appealing when I was asleep and unconscious. Hang in there, and just try to get his hands and mind involved in something daytime :) And please don't use the dentist or orthodontist as threats; that just felt awful as a child, for something that was very unconscious.