It’s not his thumb but…Posted: February 13, 2009
Ever since Cooper was born, we have really wanted to him to learn how to self-sooth himself so if he wakes up in the middle of the night or early from a nap he can calm himself back to sleep without our help. I must say that he has done a pretty good job of getting himself to go back to sleep without our help. Sometimes he cries for a few minutes, but usually falls quickly back to sleep (now).
Cooper usually falls asleep for naps and bedtime with a combination of three things- swaddling, rocking, and sucking. We swaddle him, rock him for a few minutes, and put a pacifier in his mouth. The sucking on the pacifier is the icing on the cake!
However until he was two months old, he did not have enough muscle control to figure out how to get his hand in his mouth. He would try, but every attempt seemed in vein as he would end up whacking himself in the face or something along those lines. Then even at three months old, he could get his fingers in his mouth, but it was more or less like he was trying to stuff his whole hand in there. So we used a pacifier for the first three months of his life. The only aggravating thing about a pacifiers is the adult has to reinsert the pacifier if it falls out. This is not convenient or helpful when Cooper is in his crib without us.
Because we swaddled him, both of his hands where tucked in tight under the blanket wrapped around him. Therefore, he did not have access to his hands anyway. Cooper is 4 1/2 months old now, and swaddling is not necessary anymore. Swaddling is useful for the first three months of life. Young babies have a startle reflex and lack of muscle control. So while they are sleeping, they might jerk or hit themselves with their arm and suddenly wake up. We were reluctant to unswaddle him because our few attempts of unswaddled sleep results in shorter naps and disrupted nighttime sleep. Just about 2 weeks ago, Chris and I decided to start phasing out the swaddle. We are on step one- leave only one arm swaddled and the other arm out. The first few days he had some adjustments to his new sleeping arrangement, but he seems to be doing great now. Leaving one arm out has results in, actually, better sleep! Now when Cooper awakes on his own from a nap early, instead of crying for a little, he just sucks on his fingers instead. Yes, his ringer finger and middle finger in tandem. I desperately wanted him to be a thumb sucker, but this is even better. I think it is too cute!
When I get him up from his naps now, he is happily laying there sucking away on his two fingers. He is even trying this new skill out in other places besides his crib. I found him doing it yesterday in his carseat. I took a picture of him sucking away on his two fingers. That is the picture shown. Unfortunately, just as I snapped the picture, he started to grin. But you can at least see his two fingers in his mouth.
I know there are a lot of people out there that say thumb or finger sucking is a bad habit to break. I will cross that bridge when I get there. For now, I am glad he has found a way to self-sooth himself that does not require a pacifier or adult help! And the other added bonus is it is unique and way too cute!