When Benjamin used to suck his thumb while eating, we initially got annoyed by it, because it generally ended up creating a huge mess of baby food everywhere…more on the baby than in the baby. It was pretty frustrating for us as parents.
Eventually, he stopped doing it, and we were relieved.
Zachary, on the other hand, is a regular thumbsucker…but only when he wants something. He doesn’t suck his thumb unless he is hungry or tired…or, well, both.
He sucks his thumb while he eats his cereal or whatever, too, but we think this falls under the “hungry” category. With each new spoonful of food, he follows it in with his thumb and sucks, and it appears to help him ingest the food. And yeah, it sometimes makes things a bit messy. But it also seems to help him get the food in and down, and he pulls his thumb out when he’s ready to take in more spoonfuls of food, so we just don’t worry about it.
The net result of basically letting the thumb sucking while eating thing go is that it’s less hassle than it was before when we were constantly trying to control it with Benjamin. It’s proven to be one of those choose-your-battles things that we’ve decided to just let go.
We’re not experts of any sort, so do whatever you want with your own children…but from our perspective, if your infant can’t stop sticking their thumb back in their mouth after every spoonful of food, well, just let him or her do it. Engage with your baby–talking, smiling, etc–and you’ll find that all that thumb-related hassle was mostly created by you and not your little eater.
For us, everyone–everyone–is soooo much happier in the end.
And of course, you still need to watch your baby and see if they’re engaging in extreme sucking of thumb or pacifier that might affect their development of new teeth or jaw, etc. Zachary isn’t strong or frequent with his sucking, so we’re not worried…and like Benjamin, we anticipate the thumb need will eventually just vanish on its own.