Pacifier VS. Thumb

   Hi all!  If you missed my previous Versus Series post click here: cloth diapers vs. disposable diapers.  On to the next installment…I thought long and hard about what topic to put into the ring to duke it out, and why not bring in the life saving, yet controversial, PACIFIER!  Pacifier VS. Thumb Sucking.

Pacifier VS. Thumb Sucking

  Pacifier vs. thumb sucking

   My son is almost 7 months and lately is choosing to suck his thumb, mostly when he is sleepy.  Seeing that the #1 feeling of mothers is WORRY, of course I started worrying about it.  I am afraid that it will become a habit and he will be 5 years old walking into Kindergarten for the first time with said thumb in his mouth.  Let’s lay it on the line shall we?

Pros & Cons



  1. Calm a crying baby quickly
  2. Satisfy the sucking reflex
  3. Great go-to soother when in public
  4. Helps a sleepy baby fall asleep


  1. Not all babies are proficient at keeping it in their mouth
  2. Mom & Dad spend time putting it back in because of #1 (not fun at night)
  3. Create a habit that is hard to break
  4. If used too early can disrupt nursing patterns.
  5. May harm teeth development

Thumb (or fingers)


  1. Always avaliable
  2. The child chooses it for soothing themselves (self soothing)
  3. Helps a sleepy baby fall asleep
  4. Can be used as a cue for parents of being tired, scared, etc.


  1. Can be habit forming
  2. Can’t throw away their thumb like a pacifier
  3. May harm teeth formation
  4. Can cause chapping on hand and mouth

My Take on the pacifier vs. thumb

  I remember the day my son was born my OB told me that her son was a self soother and chose to use his thumb to calm down, and she didn’t fight it.  I guess that stuck with me for a while.  But, we started using the pacifier for baby boy when a) he was 4 weeks old & b) we were ready to poke out our ear drums.  It seemed to work quickly to calm him which was great!  As he got older, and he was in full blown screaming mode the pacifier did NOTHING!  Click here to see what worked to calm the crying baby down.  Now that he is teething he just likes to chew on it. He has started using his thumb to soothe himself, which I personally think is great!  We don’t have to hold it in his mouth like the pacifier (he couldn’t keep it in), and maybe he is learning how to calm himself down? **The thumb is especially helpful when on a small ferry boat ride in a bay with a screaming baby, no where to go, and annoying glances from others**  Will it turn into a habit that we can’t break?  Not sure.  From what I have read that a child/toddler’s need to suck on something goes away eventually and the pacifier or thumb will not be needed.  In the end, every child is very different and will need very different things, but for now his thumb is working wonders (smile).

Helpful websites that hash it out:

Products that may help:

Now, share with me your take on pacifiers vs. thumbs!



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12 comments to Pacifier VS. Thumb

  • I see the pros and cons with both. None of my children really got attached to a binky or thumb. I think it was because I was nursing all of the time and I felt like a human pacifier. One of my friends has a daughter that sucks her thumb but she really only does it to sooth – like when she is tired, crying, hurt – but when she is off playing and stuff the thumb is out of her mouth. On the other hand one friend has a child that I have actually never seen his face because the pacifier is always in his mouth. It is easy for him to hold in and he runs around with it all day. His lips are very chapped, from what I can see of them.

    However, I think that latter example was an extreme case. I gave my kids a “binky” when they were babies if they were upset and if the “binky” wasn’t available they sucked on their thumb. Not really habit forming. We just had to wean them from it by the time they were up and running around. Weaning from nursing was more difficult for us. I really think either one is okay as long as its not going to the extreme.

    Now having said all that my older brother sucked on his binky until he was 5 and turned out to be a normal, full functioning human being. :) It was Kindergarten that helped him rid the habit. He decided on his own to quit it then because it was getting emberrasing for him.

    Sorry for the rambling :)

  • I am not big into pacifiers. We did try one at bedtime when my baby was four weeks old. However, by the look on her face, you would have thought I was giving her poison. She prefers her entire fist over anything else (besides her mama!).

  • Teagan (my 9 month old) sucked on her “noonie” for about 2 months, until she discovered her…. THUMB!! Oh my goodness it worked like magic! It IS self soothing and is always there when she needs it. Some people pull her thumb out of her mouth and say “don’t do that!” And I kindly say, “this is what comforts her for now. If she wants to do it, then let her.” Because trust me… when Tea isn’t happy… NOBODY IS HAPPY!! LOL

  • Oops.. For some reason, my blog was using the wrong link!!

  • Kathy

    We tried the pacifier, but Jacob just wouldn’t keep it in. He never really sucked his thumb either. What he does love now though at age 2 is his blanket. He loves to chew the ribbon part around the edge in particular.

  • My oldest and youngest both were (are) paci kids. My middle son was not. I would say it definitely has it’s pluses, and minuses. When they are little, it is a lifesaver, but it’s one more thing to break them of .. bottle, diapers, paci! My sister recently (she’s 30) admitted to sucking her thumb well into high school. Only when she’d had a really bad day, and of course, in total private. Wow, huh!

    • spoonmomma

      My friend said once that there is nothing that you can’t break a child of….so I guess we will cross that road when we get there huh? :)

  • Good ideas for your Series!

  • Diane

    L sucked her thumb from the time she was 5 months old until just a few months ago. (She is 4 1/2 years old now lol!)

    I was super worried about it before, and now that I look back on it realized it was pretty silly. I tried all different things to try and get her to stop and sometimes they would work…for a little bit…but the best thing that worked was when I just stopped worrying about it! I never came out and was like, “OMG don’t suck your thumb!!” or used tabasco sauce like some people recommended, but I think she could pick up on my vibe that it bothered me…thus probably making her want to suck it more!

    She used to suck it all the time, then it was just during tv time, sleep time, and when she was upset/bored. Then she cut it out during TV…then when she was upset/bored…and finally she was just doing it just before bed to fall asleep. Then one night she said “Mommy I don’t want to suck my thumb anymore”, and I told her that’s fine it’s up to you!

    I think once in awhile she may inadvertently do it if she wakes up in the middle of the night when she’s half asleep…but other than that the habit is broken :)

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