Monday, April 4, 2011


I was talking to a friend last week about how much I dislike helping my girls learn to "not suck" on their thumbs/fingers. I dislike it as much as I loved it when they were babies. Make sense?

The fact of the matter is, babies are wired to suck. (I can't think of any other way to say that but I realize how weird it sounds. I'm not being sarcastic or goofy. Just stating facts.) That's how they get their food. It's an instinct. Whether the food comes from the breast or a bottle is irrelevant. The vast majority of babies know what to do when presented with milk.

So here's my theory.

If babies don't get to suck as much as they want to while eating, they will find another outlet. If a baby takes forever to eat, they'll be less likely to suck their thumb or need a pacifier. If a baby eats very quickly, they'll be more likely to enjoy a thumb or pacifier.

If I take a quick tally of my own kids, it looks like this:

Thumb-suckers/very fast eaters (because of very fast let-down!) = 4

That's 4 for 4 in case you're not paying attention.

I can't remember all the details from my 11 nieces and nephews. One definitely didn't need either thumb or pacifier and ate for long periods of time. That fits the theory. Another needed a pacifier for a short time. I wonder if he ate for shorter periods during that time? But generally, he ate for long stretches of time so that still works for the most part. One niece used a pacifier. She finished her meals faster than her brothers who didn't need pacifiers. That fits too.

I realize there will always be anomalies in any theory. But even if someone blows it out of the water -- could this still be a practical theory? What do you think? What has been your experience with your kids?

If this holds true with enough people, I can chalk it up as one more thing I wish I'd known sooner....

The other that comes to mind most immediately is directly related. It's when I learned that babies don't LIKE or DISLIKE pacifiers, they have to LEARN to like them. And in relation to this, they have to need them, I guess. But if I had known both of these things combined, I could have kept at the pacifier to supplement the need to suck....Nowadays I wish I could take away their digits the way I could take away a pacifier. But then...hindsight IS always 20/20.

I'm also realizing this could be old news. It's not "my" theory. It's just my "I just realized this" and "do you think so too?" theory. Maybe there's some parenting book out there that touches on this very subject. I wouldn't be surprised. But it's news to me right now and I think it's kind of fascinating....