Confessions of a Thumb Sucker


Canaan is now 4 months old and I feel like, quite literally, time is flying by. Even now I watch him as he sleeps in his swing and find myself trying to imprint upon my memory how his little feet dangle, how he coos, and how that sweet little tuft of hair on top of his head blows back and forth with each gentle rock. I don’t want to miss it and I don’t want to rush it. With my first born, I was a different mom. I was so excited and anxious to see all that a little human could do. I know that when I look back on Aden’s first months I can remember many things, but I was too hurried. I didn’t stop to enjoy all the little things often enough. With Canaan I’m consciously trying to slow time down and savor each sweet moment.

One of the things that has held me captive is watching Canaan learn to suck his thumb. It’s been a process for sure but he’s got it now and can insert that chunky little thumb into his cupid lipped mouth with a perfect bulls eye. Thumb sucking wasn’t something I tried to push him towards, if anything we tried the pacifier. No, this was something he found all on his own. Aden wanted the pacifier, in fact he wanted like 4 at a time (which brings back many moments of hilarity all on it’s own). And so as I watch him it brings me back to my own childhood.

Canaan & THE suckerbumbum

These are the confessions of a thumb sucker.

My passion for my pollex (Latin for thumb) started before I can remember. My Mom made me a blanket that also had a matching pillow and bathrobe. But whereas the pillow and the bathrobe got used on my dolls later in life, the blanket became my constant. The aforementioned blanket is the very one you see in these pictures. It’s been used and abused, it’s tattered and torn, but when I wrap my fingers in that smooth silkiness my tactile memory kicks in and thousands of memories flood my brain.

Thumb sucking was something I reserved for private. I never did it in school and it wasn’t an all day event while at home. Suckerbumbum (yep that’s what I named it:) was every bit as much a companion as it was a comfort. I dragged it along on all of my play adventures, wrapped my dolls in it, used it to play dress up; it could double as a veil, a cape or a dress and still be extremely accessible for a few sucks when needed. And then there were the times when I needed something more, like an escape, and my blanket and thumb soothed me emotionally. In times of need I could open my mouth, insert my thumb and wrap my fingers in that blanket and find the solace I needed.

There are a lot of different opinions on thumb sucking. Or sucking on anything for that matter. I look at Canaan and wonder if he’ll need dental work in the future. I wonder if his little thumb will go raw. But I think about how much my own experience with thumb sucking helped me learn how to self soothe and can’t imagine why I wouldn’t allow him to do what he wants to do naturally. For now though, I’m going to enjoy watching him suck his little left thumb (just like his Mama:) and worry about the what ifs later.

One more thing that comes back to me as I write this. I memorized only one poem in life and I think its a fitting ending for this post:


Oh the thumb sucker’s thumb

May look wrinkled and wet

And withered and white as the snow.

But the taste of the thumb

is the sweetest taste yet

(As only we thumb suckers know).

(by Shel Silverstein)




  1. Missy…

    So sweet! Glad to hear you have a happy thumb sucker in your house. I know it’s a ways off but I hope to see you in January when we visit.

  2. I think I was a binky sucker myself (which my mom conveniently lost after I became a bigger toddler)– but Titus sucks his thumb. I tried and tried to get him to use a pacifier, but all he wanted was his thumb.

  3. Shannon,

    I didn’t suck my thumb, but I took my blankie with me everywhere — including college & the Peace corps. I wore it as a turban and a scarf when I was working late on term papers or stressed or nervous or scared or sad. Now my 5 month old sleeps with it! A few times it’s been left in my bed when I’ve returned him to his crib. I’ve woken up clutching it!

    Great post.

    • Suzanne…

      Thanks for the comment. Secretly I’m hoping that Canaan will want to drag around my blanket when he’s older. So glad to hear that there are people out there with fond memories of blankies and thumbs.


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