My little Linus has been a thumbsucker since he was in my womb. I have proof:
|Judah in utero.|
It was really cute seeing him sucking his thumb then, adorable when he came out and self comforted so I never had to use a binki and then he grew up and all sorts of fun problems began to occur. We hadn’t the knowledge of thumbsucker parents at the time and had to do a bit of research through the years, so I figured I would spread the knowledge of how to handle certain situations that are bound to come up for the next Mommy googling things late at night.
What to do with cracked thumbs –
Little did we know that we would be facing troublesome things like thumbs cracking and/or bleeding from the constant suction and dry to wet skin. The best possible solution (if you cannot magically get your child to stop overnight) is to apply Pure Lanolin. Lanolin is a natural moisturizer. Yes it is made from the grease/wax/substance from wool on a sheep – but for all it’s oddity it is safe. It’s main role in protecting sheep is to waterproof the wool, do you see where I am going with this? It also plays a role in integumental hygiene in sheep, meaning it protects against body damage and compromised skin. It is hypoallergenic, great on wounds and also eczema.
Now let me make this one point. EATING the lanolin is dangerous, it is a wax and will cause intestinal blockage. What I am talking about is using it as a thin based lotion to block the water / spit on the thumb so that it doesn’t crack when pressure is applied. Please read here about Lanolin Poisoning (which is non-poisonous with medical grade lanolin so check your bottles). So apply in a very thin amount and only when necessary. I personally use Now Foods Lanolin Pure, I purchased the bottle over a year ago and only made a small indent in it; it goes a long long way and I haven’t had any issues since we began using this method. Contact your doctor before using it and also if you have any concerns.
Also it is GREAT for pedicures.
What to do when Stuffy Noses and Thumbs don’t mix –
We’ve consulted our doctor numerous times due to the fact that our tot is a thumbsucker and every time he gets a cold he refuses to sleep, screams when he tries to suck his thumb at night and/or tries to rub his nose off while crying hysterically. If you have a thumbsucker and if they’ve ever had a cold, you know exactly what I’m talking about. Here is the only advice we’ve ever been given:
- Prop them up.
- Get a humidifier.
This doesn’t work really great, but it’s about all you can do until they get old enough to take decongestants. What we’ve found to help cope is a cool rag to the face, rubbing from the nose to the cheeks – forehead until they fall gently to sleep. Once they’re asleep (especially after a long fit) they don’t use their thumbs and generally can breath decently. The cool water helps to calm them, the more they cry the stuffier they get and it also somehow helps the breathing relax enough to where it lets some amount of air flow (I’m not a doctor.). For little bitty ones, using a suction doesn’t always work, but you can stand in a steaming bathroom for about thirty min which gives a close range humidifier effect to help clear the nasal passages. Again, once you get them into a deep sleep they don’t use their thumbs (generally speaking).
How to curb the Thumbsucking –
We are not pros at this, but this is what we found that works for us. We made it all a joke. Funny things go a long way with children.
Instead of getting upset and removing the thumb from our tots mouth, we’d laugh and pull it out and say “No, no that’s for bedtime!” And it quickly caught on. Now if we say, “What are you doing sucking your thumb!” He’ll take it out and laugh and say, “No, that’s for bedtime!”.
When we are speaking to him directly about something important we also tell him to remove his thumb. This is important because he needs to focus on what we are saying and not get distracted by his habit. By asking politely for him to remove it and listen, he responds accordingly. The key is to not get upset and by slowly incorporating smaller things such as: No Thumb at the Dinner Table, etc – you curb and control where it is acceptable and it becomes less and less of a habit. At least, so it is true for us, it’s worth trying! So far so good!
Thumbsucking after a certain age is discouraged by Dentists (usually age 4) because of the possible misalignment of teeth and changes that can occur to the roof of the mouth. So it’s smart to start when they’re tots (like us!) in a positive, encouraging way. Thumbsucking, especially for children who have been doing it since they were born, is a way to relax – it is their comfort – I don’t encourage putting awful things on their thumbs or being negative about it. It is a slow process that won’t end overnight, it is no different than encouraging them to grow into a toddler bed, a twin bed, into underwear via potty training or how to let go of their favorite stuffy / blanket when it’s time to begin school. The process is gradual, the encouragement should be towards growing older and becoming a ‘big kid’, it can be controlled with patience, love and a lot of understanding.
I am not a doctor. This is from personal experience and discussions with my doctor. Please consult your doctor if you have any concerns and/or other successful tips at curbing Thumbsucking in a positive manner.