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How to stop thumb-sucking...any advice?

(44 Posts)
Undercovamutha Mon 15-Mar-10 18:09:31

My DD is 3.5yo. She sucks her thumb A LOT! We have never really done much to discourage her until recently, as we noticed that her front teeth had started to protrude a bit and also noticed that none of the other kids in her nursery class seem to do it.

However we have just come back from the Dentist, who said that her thumbsucking needs to stop as it is definitely pushing her teeth forward, and could alter her jawline if it continues.

I have always been a bit soft about stopping her, cos I used to suck my thumb when I was little and know how comforting it can be for a LO. However both my DSis and I had to have braces due to sticky-out teeth - which were probably caused by thumb-sucking.

So has anyone got any ideas/experience of how to (kindly) stop thumbsucking. I am usually quite a firm parent, but feel decidedly flaky about this matter smile! Need a decent plan, as just keep asking her to stop doesn't seem to be getting us anywhere.

mumutd Mon 15-Mar-10 19:50:55

Hope you don't mind but I'm keen to know the answer too. My dd was 3 back in September and loves her thumb. She now has a wart on her right hand thumb so has stopped sucking that one, we have talked to her about it being poorly and that she will make her other one poorly too if she contiues to suck it but that hasn't stopped her. It is a habit and I have no idea how to break that habit without giving her something else to do at those times that trigger the thumb sucking (but what to give her is my biggest stumbling block).

Undercovamutha Mon 15-Mar-10 20:38:38

Know how you feel mumutd. My DD has a sore area (bit like eczema) at the base of both her thumbs, I think caused by dribble. She was really trying to not suck her thumb this evening after the dentist, bless her, but went to bed with her thumb firmly in! Am not even thinking about the nighttime thumb-sucking yet - just want to crack the daytime first!

Tortoise Mon 15-Mar-10 20:45:00

Both my DD's are thumb suckers. DD2 age 5 has it in constantly at home. Afraid i have resorted to that nail bitting stuff. Luckily she hates the taste. It isn't stopping her at night because it has gone by then but she doesn't suck it the rest of the time now.

LoveBeingAMummy Mon 15-Mar-10 20:49:13

<book marking as dd gets sores on her thumbs sometimes from sucking so much>

Mamaski Mon 15-Mar-10 23:07:07

Have you heard of "Thumbuddy To Love"? Age 3-4 is a great time to stop thumb sucking and you want to keep it positive and fun. There is a product that works great, but you have to use the book, adorable thumb puppet and success chart to help her stop. It is called "Thumbuddy to Love" and kids really like it because it is not shameful like many of the products out there. you can get it on ThumbuddyToLove dot com or you can get it on Amazon. There is one for boys and one for girls. The sooner you start the better becuase i was a thumb sucker and it definetly ruins your teeth. I had to get braces from the teeth being pushed forward.

AussieSim Mon 15-Mar-10 23:13:22

Both DS's are thumb suckers. An incredibly hard habit to break. My oldest is 7 and he rarely sucks his thumb any more. I am waiting for another couple of teeth to come in before we head off to the orthodontist as recommended by the dentist. DS2 who is 5 in June still sucks though I am hoping it has lessened since he started school. I think reasoning with them is the only hope at this age - maybe when they are much younger you can 'trick' them - but when they were younger I found it such a blessing that they were able to comfort themselves and sleep well and chill out when in the car etc. Lazy mummy?

mumutd Mon 15-Mar-10 23:21:45

I've never heard of that Mamaski but will definitely be looking into it, thank you

Undercovamutha Tue 16-Mar-10 13:24:37

Mamaski that definitely sounds worth trying - thanks.

AussieSim - know exactly what you mean. I have been blessed with 2 great sleepers (12 hours a night since 4mo) and there is no great coincidence that the sleeping started at exactly the same age as the thumb-sucking!

Bumblingbovine Tue 16-Mar-10 13:30:17

I recmmended this to a friend whose 7 year old daughter sucked her thumb and it worked!.

Within a couple of weeks her daughter had stopped suking her thumb. My friend's dd did want to stop though so she was motivated. She had to wear it day and night for a while

Now I need to get one as ds is 5.5 yrs old and has eczema on his thumbs form the sucking he does.

Bumblingbovine Tue 16-Mar-10 13:31:37

sorry link didn't work

SoupDragon Tue 16-Mar-10 13:32:08

The only thing that stopped DS1 sucking his thumb was having braces fitted at 7 to correct the damage. These neatly prevented him from sucking his thumb as he couldn't open his jaw to put it in. IME, nothing works (stop n grow stuff, reminding him etc etc) unless they really want to stop (which at 3.5 they won't)

He's 11 now (still has the braces!) and has beautiful straight teeth and a superb jawline.

Madsometimes Tue 16-Mar-10 13:41:42

Dd1 stopped sucking her thumb at age 8 after a trip to a scary orthodontist. I purchased the thumbguard, but we never used it. Instead we taped socks onto her hands at night, with her permission, of course.

Most devoted thumb suckers have their thumb in their mouth all night long, so will power is needed to stop, but that alone is often not enough. Many children will need a physical barrier to prevent them from sucking in their sleep.

We were so proud of our dd for stopping sucking her thumb. She had her thumb in her mouth in her 12 week scan, and she sucked it constantly until she stopped at 8. It was really tough for her to stop, but her jawline was being damaged and her adult teeth were being pushed back.

I agree with SoupDragon that a child needs to be old enough to understand why they need to stop and to take part in the process willingly.

harecare Tue 16-Mar-10 13:53:52

I've looked at this as DD1 is a thumbsucker. I only allow it at bedtime and the only other time she sucks is when she watches tv so I switch it off. I ask her if she wants to wear a brace and she usually takes it straight out, but it is habit more than anything, she seems to need to suck on something - she also was sucking it at 12 week scan.
I put socks on 6 month DD2s hands to stop her getting the same habit. So far so good, although she never even tried to suck it before 3 months unlike DD1.
My plan was to put chilli on her thumb from 3 years, but maybe the thumbuddy to love might be kinder?!

Undercovamutha Tue 16-Mar-10 20:46:22

Thanks everyone. Some great ideas. Didn't do too well stopping DD thumb-sucking today. She was a big grouch all day long so no chance of anything positive - just a 'get through the day' kind of day IYSWIM!
Will start with renewed vigour tomorrow!

ppeatfruit Tue 16-Mar-10 21:48:11

Well, DD1 sucked her thumb from 3 months till 6and a half. Her teeth are straight and beautiful and always have been (she's 30 yrs old now !!)That was also the case with my sister.

DS did not suck anything at all and his senior teeth came through sticking out at the front;he had orthodontics at age 14.

So i would say that dentists don't nec. get everything right and the comfort some DCs get from it is not to be taken lightly.

how would you like yr. glass of wine, cup of tea or whatever crutch you have being removed??

fanjolina Tue 16-Mar-10 22:03:35

I showed my DD (4) pics of people with no thumbs and told her they had fallen off from sucking too much blush

Tortoise Tue 16-Mar-10 22:10:33

I have been thinking about getting these for DD2. But not until school hols as it needs to be worn day and night.

FalafelAtYourFeet Tue 16-Mar-10 22:11:46

If you find an answer can you tell me, I am still an occasional thumb sucker at 29 blush

FalafelAtYourFeet Tue 16-Mar-10 22:12:13

Oh and my teeth are fine grin

SoupDragon Wed 17-Mar-10 10:00:41

Tortoise, you could make that by cutting the fingers off a glove It will only work if she wants to stop as she'll easily be able to remove it. Great as a reminder for a determined child though.

Part of what stuffs up the teeth is the fact that the teeth are never together (ie the mouth is never shut) so the jaws grow differently to compensate. The same effect will happen through "slack jawed yokel" staring at the TV etc, although this won't reshape the palate and pull the teeth forward like thumbsucking does.

DS1 needed the orthodontic treatment because of thumbsucking - it was blindingly obvious that it had caused damage. DS2 needed it because of slack-jawed-yokel but he has had far easier treatment than DS1 because he didn't suck anything (didn't need milk teeth removed for a start).

I am extremely p*ssed off that DD started sucking her thumb at the age of 2.7. In only 18 months, she's caused visible damage to her teeth and jaw/chin.

FWIW, the orthodontist could tell from the shape of my face that I'd been a thumbsucker without looking in my mouth. Of course, he had a 50% chance of being right through guesswork but given I'd just seen him predict the state of DS1's teeth and jaws (including measurements) before looking in his mouth, I believe him. It's been a fascinating (if traumatic!) experience but both DSs look more gorgeous as a result

ppeatfruit Wed 17-Mar-10 11:32:04

Yes exactly Falafel!! they 'll ignore you 'cos you're not saying what they want to hear.

Erm HELLO. I think your teeth develop genetically any one listening? grin

Undercovamutha Wed 17-Mar-10 13:33:27

ppeatfruit - I totally agree with you re. removing a crutch. That's why I feel so flaky about the whole thing. I LOVED sucking my thumb, and am not sure anyone could have persuaded me not to tbh. That said, if it did cause me to have the horrendous brace that I had for 3 of my teenage years, then I definitely wish I had stopped earlier!

I know what you're saying re. genetics, but I really do believe that DDs teeth are like they are cos of thumb-sucking. They were perfectly straight when they first came through, and it is only very recently that they have started to protrude.

FalafelAtYourFeet Wed 17-Mar-10 13:38:11

Yes but I have sucked thumb for 29 years and have no trace of overbite, very straight teeth etc. they are a bit overcrowded at the bottom but that is a separate matter!
38 year old dsis is the same, but without the overcrowding. Straight teeth, no braces or anything

So there must be some element of genetics involved, because myself and dsis sucked our thumbs A LOT!

ppeatfruit Wed 17-Mar-10 15:31:10

I would say if in doubt undercovermotha then don't re move her thumb from her mouth because as i said before with my son his teeth stuck out and he never sucked anything!!!Apart from bf of course!!

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