Breaking the Thumb-Sucking Habit

When I was pregnant with my daughter, I remember the ultrasound technician at Angel Prints telling us, “Oh, look! She is sucking that thumb!” and multiple times during that session, she pointed out to us our little unborn baby putting her thumb in her mouth. I was still in a bit of shock that it was a girl, but I remember thinking how adorable it was going to be to have a little thumb-sucker.

A dedicated thumb sucker since before birth

And y’all, it so was.

As she got a little older, though, I worried and fretted continuously about her thumb-sucking habit becoming extremely hard to break and didn’t know what I was going to do about it at all. At her first visit to a pediatric dentist, he assured me that she wouldn’t stop until the time was right for her and that I needed to cut myself some slack.

Time to Break the Habit

Fast forward to the next dental checkup. We saw a different dentist in the same clinic who had a well, let’s say different view of the situation. She measured the gap between her upper and lower teeth and put it in her chart so we can see if it gets better or worse at the next visit. It was definitely viewed much more seriously than the first visit.

Her adorable habit has been well-documented.

So, leading up to her third birthday, I tried my best to prepare my daughter for the inevitable. “When you turn three, you’re not going to be able to suck your thumb anymore because you’re going to be a big girl.” Laughed. In my face. Then, promptly stuck her thumb in her mouth. I was sure this was going to be especially traumatic for all involved (especially me!)

The day after her birthday, I told her that we were going to have princess nails and I put Mavala Stop polish on her thumbnails (I didn’t want to chance her sucking the other thumb). The first time she put her thumb in her mouth, she cried.

“My mouth!” she said, pointing.

“It’s your thumb!” I told her. “Your thumb went sour because you’re a big three year old now. It doesn’t taste good anymore.”

And that was that. A few times I watched her pick her thumb up, but she would rest it on her chin instead of putting it in her mouth. That nasty-tasting polish worked for us the same day, literally. The only tough part of this transition is bedtime. Because she has sucked her thumb to go to sleep since she was a tiny baby, going to sleep without it is a brand new skill for her.

Goodbye to Babyhood

I look at one of the last photos that was taken of my daughter sucking her thumb, and I feel a bit wistful even though I know this was for the best. This thumb-sucking was one of the last things that kept her “my baby,” and now she’s moved on up to “my little girl.” It’s bittersweet.

I was positive that this was going to be exceptionally traumatizing for both of us, but it honestly has not been too bad. I imagined that she would cry rivers of tears and would fight me with the polish, but again, it has not been bad. I suppose that the lesson to me is to take each day as it comes and not worry about all of the things in the future with raising my children that I cannot do anything about today, but that’s a post for another time. For now, we are moving on to the things that little girls love and do. We’ve said goodbye to this part of her babyhood.

Sarah Vorhies is a self-proclaimed foodie who has been married to her husband Justin for ten years. Sarah and Justin have two beautiful children, Lillian and Judah. Sarah stayed close to home and got her degree in English Education from Southeastern Louisiana University. She can honestly say she is never bored thanks to one of the most fun jobs ever - teaching 11th grade American Literature. She enjoys traveling, reading, finding new recipes on Pinterest, and spending quality time with her family.

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