Does your child thumbsuck?

When I saw the film The Thumbsucker a few days ago, I couldn’t help but look back on everything that I had been told about thumbsucking when Sam was a baby. Sam was a thumbsucker. Almost every adult told me to get her to stop the habit and their reasons varied: 1) It would ruin the shape of her mouth; 2) It would ruin the formation of her teeth; 3) It was a sign of insecurity. Someone even advised me to rub chili pepper on her thumb to get her to stop. I didn’t listen to any of them. We let Sam be. When she was around two, already very chatty and very conversant, whenever she put her thumb in her mouth, Speedy would ask with a laugh, “Masarap ba (Is it tasty)?” and Sam would giggle. She stopped thumbsucking before her third birthday. On her own and without any pressure from Speedy and me.

All the reasons that the wise adults gave were wrong. Okay, they probably meant well but they were STILL WRONG. Thumbsucking does not affect the shape of the mouth nor the formation of the teeth UNLESS the child is still thumbsucking AFTER the permanent teeth have started to come out. And it is not a sign of insecurity or emotional problem — it is simply a natural reflex. Some babies do it even while still INSIDE the uterus. So much for old wives’ tales.

The thing is, as I look back, I wonder how much damage I could have caused Sam had I been the kind of mother who accepted as gospel truth everything that the oldies told me simply because they were older and were presumed to know better. How much would I have hurt her, emotionally and mentally, had I prevented her from doing what comes naturally to a child? One of those times when I feel only too happy about being hard-headed and opinionated.


  1. mommy m says

    Yes! and both times, I let nature run it’s course and they both stopped by their first birthdays. But just like you, the oldies never hesitated about pitching in “helpful” words, from everything you said to downright complaining that my babies were restless and whiny. Imagine the frustration when I found out it was because while the baby would be trying to pacify herself, they would pull the thumb out and away and hold it like that while the baby tries to fight for her thumb. Torture kaya. When the baby starts crying they would then insist that jiggling the baby is REQUIRED to pacify the baby. My girls hate that. So they would cry even more. Buti na lang talaga, marereklamo yung mga bata, hindi na talaga sila titigil ng iyak until they are left alone. At buti na lang talaga, when they were babies, I was always around. I hate to think about what could’ve happened kung buong araw na ganun kinawawa yung mga anak ko.

  2. says

    I was actually going to post an article about thumbsucking. I used to thumbsuck until I was around 7 and I also stopped on my own. Tapos my eldest also sucks her thumb but hasn’t stopped yet.

    I read it somewhere that the trait is hereditary so I suppose she got it from me. I don’t intend to stop her either pero slowly siya na din ang nagbabawas.

    What I noticed though, compared to my second child who doesn’t thumbsuck, Gaby was a calmer baby. Itong isa ko grabe kasi kung umiyak and there was hardly any way to calm her down. I almost suspected that she was colicky. Hindi naman, masungit lang talaga. But my eldest, naku, she was literally an angel.

    According to my Mom, ako din daw..hahaha :)

  3. says

    Interesting topic you have there & I have a strong affinity with it. I used to thumbsuck that my thumb developed a callous membrane & my thumbsucking goes hand-in-hand with a clothe to cover my face with. Same with my youngest! God bless & Merry Christmas to you!

  4. says

    mommy m, hard to argue when they’re torturing the child thinking they’re doing it for his/her best interests, ‘di ba? And, most times, you’re left feeling guilty as though you’re an ungrateful little bitch for all the good advice they give. Hay, naku, whoever said that life was simple…

    Kongkong, they stop when they’re ready. YOU KNOW THAT, right? Nakakainis lang yung mga lines na it’s a sign of insecurity or emotional problem — as though you failed somewhere as a mother and that’s the reason your child is sucking her thumb. Duh. Wherever did that come from?

  5. says

    in my case, i’ve had unsolicited advice re: the EVIL pacifier naman. same thing, that its bad for the teeth or mouth, etc.

    hirap din talaga when someone thinks they know better lalo na kung may implying/accusing tone pa.

  6. says

    kitts, when it’s the oldies giving advice, they have this tone that implies you are an ungrateful bitch when you don’t follow, ‘di ba? Hay, naku, nakakaloka sobra. In my case, I even had my lola and her superstitions.

  7. Megan says

    I would like to disagree. I never sucked my thumb, both of my children do, my oldest is 9 and I can already see damage to her mouth. They may just stop on their own but how bad do you let their teeth get waiting for that to happen. Every child is different and you can not always just wait it out. I did, now her mouth is getting ruined.

  8. says

    Megan, did you see the timeline and the reference that you need not start worrying UNLESS your child’s permanent teeth have started to come out? You said you kid is 9 and we were all talking about our toddlers’ thumbsucking.

  9. ces says

    hi! as a first time mom i’m also worried about my 8month old son who really thumbsuck a lot. as in… he really loves it! eventhough he has something in his hands, he will still prefer to thumbsuck whether it’s left or right hand. i also heard from others that it will affect the formation of the teeth wherein now his teeth started to come out. but as i’ve read some of your comments regarding this matter… my worries become less. thanks a lot! :)

  10. says

    Hi Ces. I know what you mean — with so many conflicting claims, it’s hard to decide which is valid and which isn’t. And so many old wives’ tales, LOL. Parents of thumbsuckers are entitled to some peace of mind too.

  11. Mommy charmz says

    Halu evryone!Im also a first time mom!What im so worried about is that my 5month old baby marley thumbsucks a lot.We even saw him thumbsucking when he was still inside me when i had my 4D UTZ!(thanx 4d technology!)twas rly cute then,bt nw im so worried.Plus,like some of i also had my fair share of old tym comments about ruining teeth,and if ur baby thumbsucks,it means that he is nt satisfied,whch gave me a guilty feelng.Aftr readng what u ol hav said,it gave me relief!Thanx a lot!Im lookng forward to reading more baby issues!More power!Ü

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