Cafe Day and a Thumbsucking Query

A couple moms have asked about the thumbsucking issue that came up at both the Thursday Morning Series Meeting and the Friday Cafe Day.

Thumbsucking is a self-soothing behavior of interest to some who study infant and child behavior.  Anthropologist Katherine  A. Dettwyler PhD (Reflections on Anthropology: A Four-Field Reader, co-editor; Breastfeeding: Biocultural Perspectives, editor; Dancing with Skeletons: Life and Death in West Africa) posted her informal response to a similar query a few years ago on a list for lactation professionals.  The question continues to be of interest to parents so she posted that letter on a website she maintains for families.  This morning someone mentioned she would like to share this observation with her husband so I am linking the commentary here, “Is It ‘Normal’ To Suck Your Thumb?” (Be aware it is a tad graphic although the analogy in question may strike a chord with some dads!)

There are a number of articles about thumbsucking on the LLLI website. Clearly it is an issue of interest.

There is a difference between thumbsucking and the occasionally chewing and exploration you might notice in a teething baby.  One mom astutely noted that her baby sometimes finds his fist with his mouth when hungry — and with newborns you might see something similar in the self-rousing behavior of little arms and hands rising against the chubby face of someone who would like to nurse!

As with so many issues of childhood, different mothers will guide their children differently if thumbsucking patterns appear.  And everyone from Grandma to baby’s dentist will have an opinion!

More questions?  Bring them up at the next meeting or Cafe Day, you’re bound to hear a variety of experiences.

—  Susan


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