When my kids were newborns, I clung fervently to the almighty pacifier as a soother - even learning to tuck the bottom half right into their "baby burrito" swaddling at night to encourage it to stay in place. As they grew from sleepy newborns into active infants and the paci kept slipping out and waking them up, I prayed that they would find their thumb/fingers and learn to self-soothe and GO BACK TO SLEEP. As a recovering thumb-sucker myself, I knew even in that moment that it would be far easier to ditch the paci than the thumb as they got older, but I didn't care one whit. All I knew was that life had become one constant stream of babies and I needed a good night's sleep and if it meant I had to saw my first grader's hand off at the wrist someday to cure him of thumb-sucking, so be it.
Fast forward to first (ok, second) grade. I've got two thumb suckers with loveys and a finger sucker without a lovey, and it's abundantly clear that amputation is not an option. Time to pay the piper for my past parenting misdeeds.
With my two thumb suckers, the sucking is tied to the lovey and we've made some half-hearted attempts to hide/dispose of lovey during the day but can't bring ourselves to law down the law at night. My own thumb snuck into my mouth at night long after I'd been fitted with braces to correct damage done earlier by said intruder. So I have every sympathy when my oldest sobs that he "just can't take it" if he can't suck his thumb while he goes to sleep.
Our finger sucker isn't tied to anything - except his fingers. All. day. long. The best we've been able to come up with for him is the pretty much constant admonition to "take your fingers out of your mouth" and "keep your hands busy so they don't creep into your mouth!" To the point where I'm sure he wants to keep his hands busy by beating us with sticks so that we'll shut up and leave him alone.
To make matters worse, our pediatric dentists seem fairly unconcerned about either the thumb or finger sucking, although they both said that if we felt like worrying about it, finger sucking is actually worse in terms of tooth displacement. The fact that my dentists aren't concerned gives me false permission to carry on about my ways, believing that they will eventually "grow out of it". Which I know for a fact is total BS, based on my personal experiences that a well-sucked thumb is tough as leather and even a mouth full of metal is no match for a thumb determined to find it's way home.
Part of me knows I need to lay down the law, and the other part of me, quite honestly, doesn't want my babies to grow up. I can remember when their threadbare loveys were pristine new baby gifts and I was able to snuggle both lovey and baby right up to my chest. Now, the sheer stench of my oldest son's feet keeps me from wanting to snuggle him, even if he could still fit on my lap. And The Caboose has officially reached the age where I try to pull him into my lap and he squirms to break free instead of snuggling in. With the exception of the Pull-Ups on The Caboose, the thumb/finger sucking is the last vestige of "baby" in this house.
Since we've obviously missed the window on the whole "they'll lose interest as they get older and quit on their own" time-line for my two bigger boys, we're gonna go the orthodontic route. Biggest boy will be heading in for a spacer, which, the dentist says, will make it so difficult to suck his thumb that he'll probably quit. My guess is that in another year, Middle will be sent for one as well. Meanwhile, I'm hoping I can salvage The (just turned three year old) Caboose and cure him using natural methods. Does anyone out there have tips for quitting thumb-sucking that worked for you? Because I suck at this.