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June 20, 2012

Thumb-Sucking Cessation Device...

…also known as a knit sock.

When she was about five months old, Baby B started sucking her thumb.  She quickly became a very passionate thumb-sucker, at times taking it out only to eat or drink. 

She continued this pattern until she was nine or ten months old, I think, and then at some point it gradually tapered off.  Since the time she was maybe a year old, she’s only sucked her thumb while she sleeps…but without fail, I might add.

The moment I put her in her bed, she puts her thumb into her mouth and snuggles down for sleep.  It’s truly the cutest thing.  And if she’s really super tired, she might put her thumb in her mouth as I’m carrying her to bed.  She’s just so squishy when she does that.  It makes me want to snuggle down with her!

B’s thumb-sucking never really bothered me.  She literally only did it in bed, so I thought it was mostly benign.

But…her poor right thumb was suffering, encased in a nasty callous.  And…I knew we’d be racking up dollar signs in orthodontic work if we didn’t break the habit.

We’d been casually talking with B about her thumb for a few months.  Why don’t you try not to put it in your mouth?” we’d ask before bedtime.  OK!  I’ll try!” she’d lightheartedly agree.  The next morning…”How did it go with your thumb last night?  Um, not so well.  I’ll try again tomorrow,” in her sing-song voice.

We never pushed the issue, but she seemed open to this line of conversation.  She knew one of her thumbs was “smooth”, and her daddy deemed her other thumb “famous”.  She’d joke, “Maybe I’ll stop [sucking my thumb] on Tuesday.” 

I knew that her thumb-sucking was such an ingrained habit…one she did in her sleep, too…that she wasn’t really conscious of what she was doing.

Last week I had an idea that I thought might help her.  I asked her if she’d like to wear a sock on her hand overnight, to remind her not to suck her thumb.

She got a huge grin on her face.  YEAH!!!

We talked it up during the day.  And I told her that if her sock fell off overnight, it was OK, we’d try again the next night.

When it came time for bed, B was all giggles.  She let me put the sock on her hand, and I encouraged her to tuck it under her chin (like the little bunny does in “Bunny’s Noisy Book” when he gets ready for sleep).

I’ll add that the girls were exceptionally tired that day.  I was so thankful that everyone went right to sleep.

The girls slept like rocks all night, and I was SO INCREDIBLY PROUD that B woke up with her sock on her hand the next morning!!!

We told her that was cause for a celebration.  She asked to go with Daddy to pick up bagels for breakfast.  Done!

Before every nap and every bedtime, B gleefully allows me to put on her sock.  She is so cute every morning when she waves to me with her socked hand. 

We keep telling B how proud we are of her, and she has added, “I’m proud of myself, too!

We’ve been praising her for how healthy her thumb looks, telling her it will soon be “smooth” like her other thumb…and it won’t be “famous” for much longer.

We’re one week in, and she hasn’t sucked her thumb at all.  I’ve told B we’ll keep using her sock until her thumb is fully healed.  I figure that will take about a month…by which time I hope the habit should be broken.

The only downside?  She’s waking up EARLY.  That’s definitely unlike her – she’s usually my better sleeper.  I’m guessing to date when she’s woken up, she’d put her thumb in her mouth and soothe herself back to sleep.  And I’m guessing the sock-tucked-under-her-chin doesn’t have the same appeal.

I hope her sleeping will “smooth” itself out over the next few weeks, too.

Fingers (and thumbs!) crossed for continued progress!  Woo hoo!!!


Cuz I'm the mama! said...

Ms. K is our thumb sucker and I agree - so cute! And, truth be told -- I've been hoping our newest babe will be a thumb sucker b/c I feel like it's made Ms. K an awesome sleeper. But of course it can't go on forever. The sock is a great idea and in fact we've used that trick on Ms. K b/c she used to also pull at her hair when she slept. AWFUL. Much worse than thumb sucking. Anyway -- when the time comes we may have to try this. Sounds like B is doing awesome!!

Deanna said...

Yay B!! Isn't it sweet when they are so proud of themselves? : )

I laughed at her "I'll stop Tuesday" comment. When we started discussing potty training, we would ask the girls when they were going to start using the potty. A would often respond "I'll start on Saturday!" (It was always Saturday or Wednesday??) Ha!

cat said...

What a very clever mommy you are! Here's holdong thumbs

Marcia (123 blog) said...

oh my word, I can't WAIT to give these two a big hug (tell me how to approach though so I don't freak them out...) :)

And you, you are VERY clever!

I have so many topics to write about - dummies, pre-school, party stuff, elevate the ordinary, the trip, friendship. my life is too "full" :)

Carrie said...

Awesome! Thanks for the idea. Evie is a thumb sucker (only at night) and I'm hesitant to start changing that habit because I think it's so darn cute. We've only just talked about her quitting (mentioning to her that the dentist thinks it's a good idea), but she keeps telling us she will stop "in five minutes". We are going to have to give that sock thing a try soon. But like your Baby B, Evie wakes early and I assume she usually lies there sucking her thumb until her owl turns green. Hopefully she can find something else to do!

Mama Mama Quite Contrary said...

My daughter is six and has been sucking her thumb since she was in utero. She does it when she is anxious or tired and honestly, I am so used to it that I don't really "see" it anymore. We went through a phase around age 4 where we tried to get her to stop but nothing ever worked. I'll try the sock but I'm not optimistic that my willful 6 year old will go for it. *SIGH*

Just Another Mom of Twins said...

You are so smart!!! Awesome job!! Woot Woot!


Barbara Manatee said...

Glad its working! Like I said via email the other day, Jacob actually just stopped on his own around 3.5 years.

Sarah was a paci girl when she was a baby but we made took them away at age 1. She quickly replaced sucking on her paci with sucking on the tag of her blankie. While sometimes gross (i.e. getting slobbered by a tag), we didn't think too much of it - it was what soothed her and we made a rule that blankies were for bedtime only (so she wouldn't be sucking on the tags ALL the time). She would actually often tell us she was tired, just so she could go to her bedroom and 'take a hit' off her blankie...haha!

Well...around age 4 or so, the Dentist asked if she sucked her thumb or a paci. We said no...but she did confess she sucked the tags of her blankie. The Dr could already tell the shifting of her teeth that there was frequent sucking. He spoke to her about what sucking did to her teeth and told her she should try to stop.

Amazingly, she listened. It was kinda heart breaking the first few nights. She knew she couldn't have the blankie and not suck on she refused her blankie at bedtime for about 2 weeks...I guess she knew it'd be too tempting. I was actually sad...their blankies were one last thing keeping them 'little' and I was worried she'd be done with it. She made it through and once she figured she'd kicked the habit, she wanted her blankie again and hasn't sucked on the tags since.

Again...relief and a bit of sadness all at once...our kiddos are growing up!

Julia said...

Oh! Sweet Baby B!

As someone who sucked her thumb till I was far too old, I remember how hard it was to stop. So, so, so hard. Good for her for being so amenable to trying, and to your cessation suggestions!

I was definitely much more strong willed about it. My poor parents tried EVERYTHING to get me to quit. I think that's probably why I hesitate to take away Brynne's bink. Someone I know told me that when she took away the bink, her kiddo started sucking their thumb. Argh! The thought of fighting that battle makes me sweat. And, so, our Miss Brynne still sucks on binks. *Sigh*