Do you have a thumbsucker? I had one until June!
We tried for 4 years to make her stop. Every day, we spoke about how her teeth and jaw were shifting. She heard how embarrassing it would be in school. We talked about braces in the future and how unhealthy it is to put dirty fingers in her mouth. My husband and I talked about these things every day. We never got tired of mentioning how important it was for her to stop sucking her thumb.
I found several products on Amazon to help kids stop sucking their thumb or finger. Some didn’t work for us and some really made her really angry. I’ll explain the differences so you can make the decision for yourself which will work for your child.
1. Mavala Stop
The first one we tried was Mavala. It’s put on the nails like nail polish. It’s extremely bitter. I tasted it to see what my daughter would feel. So nasty. I started using this when she was 2 years old.
I honestly don’t know how safe this is but the goal is for them not to put it in their mouth. When my daughter went to suck her finger, she drooled for at least 30 minutes because she didn’t want to swallow with that taste. She had the worst time sleeping because she needed her finger to doze off. I tried sending her to school with it but later noticed that she was sucking her finger and drooling the flavor off. So after some time, she just adjusted her tastebuds and didn’t mind the taste anymore. This was a fail.
We then tried the t-guard for thumbsucking. It worked ok. She had a hard time putting her finger in her mouth but quickly figured out how to take the guard off. Since she needed to suck her finger to sleep, after I left the room, she’d figure out how to remove the guard. I would walk into the room to check on her after she’d gone to sleep and would see her finger in her mouth. Fail #2
Then we tried the brace. It’s made of super strong velcro and a hard piece of plastic covered by soft fabric. It prevents them from bending their elbows enough to stop the finer or thumb from reaching the mouth.
The cons of it are that it’s a bit short so if your child tries hard enough, he or she can figure out how to make their hand reach the mouth. And it looks uncomfortable. The pros: it comes with stickers and a weekly calendar. It’s supposed to take a couple of weeks. With stickers and a final reward, children are supposed to have enough incentive to stop thumbsucking on their own.
I tried several times to no avail. But then one day about a year after I bought the brace, my daughter told me she wanted the brace because she wanted to stop sucking her finger. She chose a final reward and I promised she’d get it if she stopped for 5 days straight. I jumped to put it on. It took her about 3 nights to get used to it. And after 5 days she got a toy. She had to stay 5 more days without her finger to keep it.
It’s now been over 3 months and she hasn’t gone back. I’m so incredibly proud of her. But I noticed something. It took us years of talking about the damage she was doing to her teeth, and how unhealthy it is to suck your finger for her to be ready. Your child will either have to be very young and moldable or ready to do it on their own. We tried for years but until she was ready to let it go, she wasn’t going to.