Friday, August 12, 2011

Time To Kick The Habit

Hoo boy. There is a battle headed for my household, I can sense it. I fear it will not be pretty.

No, I'm not talking about potty training (though that is also looming and holds its own set of horrors for me).

I'm talking about getting my daughter to stop sucking her thumb.

After she was born, I waited whatever the recommended time period was before first giving her a pacifier. I think it was just a few weeks, I can't really remember. She more or less took to her binkies, and I quickly figured out what kind she preferred and made sure to always have an extra (or two) on hand at home and when we went out.

Baby Girl at around three months, with binky.

Then, at about four months, she just decided she was done with pacifiers. Didn't need 'em, didn't want 'em. I figured this had to be a good thing, because it meant I wouldn't have to somehow to convince her to give them up once she got bigger. She didn't immediately replace the pacifiers with thumb-sucking. She lured me into a false sense of security and then ever so slowly I began to notice the habit developing. I honestly didn't worry about it too much because as far as I could tell the only time that thumb ever made its way into her mouth (outside of feedings) was when she was getting sleepy. If she was able to self-soothe, who was I to argue with her on the subject?

Back in May I took her for her first ever dental check-up and the dentist was quick to ask if my daughter sucks her thumb. She could tell from the way the teeth were coming in. The dentist advised me that while it wasn't necessarily an urgent matter to stop, it was still best to break the habit early on, before her teeth could be seriously screwed up. She recommended the product used to help nail-biters kick their own habit, said it works wonders. At the time, I nodded and thanked her and remained polite while inside I bristled at the unasked for parenting advice. Yes, it could get to be a bigger problem later on down the road, and sure, if left unchecked it could lead to all kinds of expensive dental work in the future. But it's one little thing that makes her happy right now, and why should I take that away from her? I discussed it with my husband and mother-in-law and we all kind of seemed to be on the same page on this topic, so I decided to just let things be. I told myself I wasn't even going to think about the thumb-sucking until after Baby Girl had turned two.

But. Ever since then, I have been unable to not keep an eye on it, and I have to admit, I don't like what I see. At first it was just when she was going to sleep. Then she started doing it when she was feeling cuddly (or had found a particularly lovely piece of fluff). After that it seemed like any time she was sitting down or laying down was an opportune time for that thumb to go in her mouth. Now it seems like something she just does when she's bored.

In April, cozied up in the rocker.

In May, having a dragon party in the hallway.

I have kept on trying to tell myself it's no big deal. But lately, I have to fight to get her thumb out of her mouth when I am trying to get her dressed in the morning, or to brush her teeth. That's just too much. She is such a fiercely independent creature, I think she can live without this habit. Of course, she's probably gonna be fighting me on it, tooth and nail.

She will be two next Wednesday. Wednesday is also grocery day in our house. So. I am giving her until then to enjoy it, because when we go to the store next week, I am picking up that nail-biting stuff, and next Thursday, the gloves come off.

Wish me luck.

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