It is in your womb that your baby starts to suck her thumb and, when out in the big wide world, suckling and sucking seem to soothe and comfort her. When put to bed, she will often chew on her pyjamas or hands or perform other actions to help her fall asleep more peacefully before turning to her thumb or blanket.
Over the months, these small habits become a way for your baby to explore the world around her. Your baby will start to experience textures, smells and tastes by putting objects into her mouth. This is what specialists call the “oral stage”.
Thumbs to satisfy that urge to suck
Your baby will suck on her thumb whenever she feels the need, often to replace your breast between feeds. The advantage of the thumb is that your baby will never lose it, nor will it fall out of her mouth at 3 o’clock in the morning and start a crisis that Mum and Dad will need to spend a ridiculous amount of time and umpteen lullabies to soothe. As your baby starts to crawl and grab hold of everything, she will need both hands and will naturally stop sucking on her thumb.
Security blanket – a window to the world
Specialists refer to the security blanket as a “transitional object”. Around the 8th month, sometimes even a little earlier, your baby’s sense of independence will start to develop and she will understand that her parents are not always there. This can be the moment when she finds a security blanket, a means of defence against anxiety. It will help ease the transition between dependence on parents and independence.
Teddy bears or scarves scented with Mum’s perfume are familiar objects around the home that she can use – it’s even better if they have her own smell. These objects will help console your baby in emotional situations – absence from parents, starting at the nursery, visiting the doctor or when she is ill.
Unfortunately, your baby may not always pick out the cleanest and most beautiful teddy bear from her collection, and may well choose a rag or “smelly” pillow. Once your baby has her favourite item in her arms, she will feel stronger and confident of facing the day’s challenges.