Thumb, meet mouth

By Published On: August 13th, 2014

As of this weekend, Bea has developed highly coordinated thumb-sucking […]

McKinley_BeaThumb_8-13-14As of this weekend, Bea has developed highly coordinated thumb-sucking capabilities. Previously, getting her favorite finger to stay in place took some frustrated effort, and she could be easily deterred with a pacifier.
Now, her arm is spring-loaded to shoot her thumb directly back into her mouth every time we pull it out. We keep trying to go down the pacifier route, but we’re realizing we may just have a determined thumb-sucker on our hands.
Really, though, we’re sort of in limbo about whether or not we actually care. Andy and I just want Bea to be happy. And to have teeth.
Those sound like simple requests, right? I certainly thought so. But after perusing countless resources, it turns out I was wrong. There are more differing opinions in the pacifier vs. thumb debate than there are concerning renewable energy, the Kardashians and the Middle East combined. Here are some of the mind-numbingly contradictory words of wisdom I stumbled across:

  • Pacifiers are an easier habit to break because, unlike a finger, you can take them away.
  • Pacifiers may be a hard habit to break because it’s easy for children to become dependent on them.
  • Prolonged pacifier use can cause dental issues.
  • Prolonged thumb sucking can cause dental issues.
  • Pacifiers may help relieve inner ear pressure during flights.
  • Pacifiers may lead to middle ear infections.
  • Pacifiers harbor germs.
  • Fingers harbor germs.
  • Using a pacifier as a sleep aid is a bad idea because the baby will rely on the parents to put it back in every time it falls out.
  • When used as a sleep aid, a pacifier may reduce the risk of SIDS.
  • Pacifiers are a great way to teach babies to soothe themselves by sucking.
  • Pacifiers are bad for teaching self-soothing because they can fall out of babies’ mouths.
  • Pacifiers are good for calming fussy infants.
  • Pacifiers are a bad “crutch” for calming fussy infants, simply masking the real reason they’re upset.
  • Don’t give a pacifier to an infant because it can cause nipple confusion.

Sounds to me like either choice sucks. (Pun intended!) But in all seriousness, I feel like it shouldn’t be this complex. Babies have been soothing themselves by sucking, well, ever since there were babies. Denying Bea the satisfaction of a finger or a pacifier would be both cruel and unusual—and it would also mean the certain end to a good night’s sleep for everyone.
So, even if the research points to the possibility of germy, buck-toothed future, we’ll just let Bea decide how she’d like to get there. Right now, it looks like her thumb is taking the lead!