Monday, December 13, 2010

Inquisition Monday: Thumb Sucking

Today's Inquisition Monday is directed to all of you.

Isaac sucks his thumb. When I've mentioned this to people I've gotten a couple of reactions, the first being "My child did/does that too." The other has been, "That must be great!"

In my head I think, "Great? Great? What's so great about not being needed?"

He's not even 5 months! He's supposed to still need me! If babies were supposed to self-sooth, I wouldn't have arms.

Margaret didn't suck her thumb. In fact, by 4 months, she had rejected any and all suckling tools besides my breast.

But Isaac. Well, I feel like I'm not there for him as much as I was for Margaret. That's a natural consequence of having to divide my attention between two kids. Sometimes I have to clean up eggs that were dropped on the floor and someone has to wait.

And I feel bad for not being there. And I worry about my supply. I know it's over-abundant, but Margaret's been nursing less and that plus Isaac having to wait and the fact that my period returned at 5.5 months pp with Margaret worries me. I'm really hoping to delay my period longer this time- and that means nurse nurse nurse nurse nurse. And take naps, which I don't do.

But then logical Heather tells me:
But some babies suck their thumbs in utero. It's not something you can prevent sometimes. And in 5 years, it won't even matter. Relax.

But... but... I'm his MOM. And he's so tiny still.

Have you had similar thoughts? I'm not sure what my question is today. I think I just needed to write these thoughts down. I asked about this at LLL a couple of months ago and people were nice about it. I'm human and can't do it all, I know.


  1. My little boy sucks his thumbs. And his index fingers, and his middle fingers, and his pinkies. But my girls never did. I think it's just him and a combination of divided attention, which is inevitable. I'm actually grateful that he has learned to keep himself happy, because with 3 other kids and everything else that I have to do to stay sane, I'm not sure how I would handle it if I was the only thing that comforted him.

    Each baby is different, with different needs and even different wants. I do know the sad feeling of being less wanted (my toddler prefers her father) but I try to look at the positive sides and my family dynamic as a whole. Good luck with coming to terms with it - it can be hard.

  2. Braxton sucks his thumb but I actually like that. At least he is receiving some comfort when I cant be there

  3. My first daughter was a paci baby. I only breastfed her for 3 months, and then she went to formula, so I didn't get to be the human binky for her.
    With my 3 month old daughter, she would rather us me as her comfort, but she's learning how to suck her thumb (which I think is cute, and I appreciate the break sometime). I'm okay with her using something else as a comfort tool since I can't be around 365/24/7. I have things to do sometimes, and while I am a SAHM, it's nice for when I'm not around.

  4. Funny. Most of the time when I hear that a baby sucks his/her thumb, people express horror and say, "You had better get him/her to stop as soon as possible!"

    I don't have any children yet, but if my babies suck their thumb, it won't bother me too much. Most kids stop on their own.

  5. I don't know why, but I feel kind of dumb even writing this post.

    As for pacifiers- I was always afraid of nipple confusion with Margaret. Isaac took to nursing better than Margaret did- but we had thrush and I didn't want to give him a pacifier and then have yet another thing to boil.

  6. I can totally relate. Before I had my last, she is 6 months old now, I had resorted to letting her nurse whenever she wants, basically being OK with being a human binky if need be. And then at 3 months she really started sucking her thumb and being able to soothe herself. She would sleep for hours at night and not NEED me, it was kinda hard to deal with, though the extra sleep was nice. After a few months she has now started using her thumb less, and prefers nursing over anything else. Which really makes me feel good, I like feeling needed. I guess I am just saying that there are others out there who feel the same way you do, sometimes it is nice to know that.

  7. Who said he doesn't need you? Just because you can pleasure yourself, does that mean you don't need or want your hubby?

    Think about it.

    It's not your job to be everything to your kids. If it were, you would be.


  8. la mujer ROCKS!

    i was going to try to say that self soothing is a good thing and heck, he still has to EAT, which is all YOU.

    my baby is 15. my older one is 18. i can tell you with complete certaintly that they will ALWAYS need you. FOREVER. isaac will just need you DIFFERENTLY than margaret.

    dare i suggest you enjoy having your body to yourself just a bit?

  9. dcr, You are right. la mujer DOES rock. I love her perspective.

    It has been nice to read everyone's comments. And relaxing. It's been a crazy couple of days. Anyone seen my drama on Facebook? I should make a post of it, but I'm kind of tired of it. Maybe I will, though.

  10. I just had my own little "Man, that's a bummer" session last night. I was telling my husband that Gizmo doesn't appreciate "Magic Mommy Milk" as much as Bug did. The other day, Gizmo fell off the couch, and he didn't want to nurse. At all. But that was the only way I ever could comfort Bug. It makes me feel a little helpless.

  11. I remember wanting Michael to suck his thumb because the pacifier always fell out. That was before I decided to take a more "continuum" approach to parenting, though. I'm glad he never learned to suck his thumb, but mostly for two reasons: one, it can affect their teeth alignment if they do it enough; and two, the comments people would inevitably make in front of him.

    I know what you are saying, though. I think babies suck their thumbs for two reasons: not enough boob, and too much stress (Aletha Solter would probably argue they don't get enough 'comfort crying' as well). I would feel like all was not right in his world if my baby were thumb-sucking. But at least it's a source of comfort for Isaac. At least babies are equipped to deal with circumstances where their mamas can't be with them 24/7.

    Although my son didn't suck his thumb, he did use a pacifier to go to sleep or to stay asleep after I nursed him to sleep. I stopped giving it to him at 8 months, and I noticed he suddenly wanted my breast way more. Maybe there will be a time when you can be there for him more, or his need to suck will lessen, and perhaps all his sucking needs will be met at the breast. Who knows. I guess as long as he is adjusting well to life it doesn't really matter.

  12. My daughter is not a thumb-sucker, and she never took to pacifiers much. That said, there are times when I've tried comforting her by nursing and she refuses me. I just figure it's her personality and try to keep in mind all the other times she wants me and no one else.

  13. Hi, I've not commented before. My son is almost 16 months now, but he started sucking his thumb at a similar age to your son. He loved his thumb, sucked it whenever he got tired and suddenly began sleeping for slightly longer periods of time and managing to get himself back to sleep on occasion (he didn't sleep through the night til he was over 1 though) Anyway, I had similar worries to you though it did provide some relief as I do have an older daughter who needed my attention too. Then almost as quickly as it had begun it stopped and he no longer sucks his thumb less than a year later. It was obviously just something he needed at the time and he doesn't need anymore, so it may not be permanent :)

  14. Sometimes babies suck their thumbs if mom has an overactive let down - they want to comfort nurse, but can't without getting drowned by milk. Thus the thumb sucking. Does that sound like a possibility?

  15. I have a different "problem." My son sucks MY thumb! I guess since it's impossible for my boob to be in his mouth 24/7 he requires something that somewhat resembles it, haha. It's actually quite handy (no pun intended, lol) for soothing if he doesn't want milk but wants me. He munches on my thumb all day. I have been known to carefully sneak his thumb in there while trying to escape during naptime.

  16. If babies weren't supposed to self-sooth, they wouldn't have thumbs ;) My kids could go from nipple to pacifier to bottle (gasp!) to nipple, sans confusion...

    And even at five months old, you're realizing how different your kids can be from one another. They're their own person. But you're still their mom. Even if your milk dried up overnight, you'd still be their mom. That will never change. *B


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