We appear to have succeeded in helping Doodle stop his long-time habit of sucking 2 of his fingers. He had developed a pronounced overbite from four years of sucking, and we knew that the habit needed to be kicked before any permanent teeth began to erupt.

Instead of trying to coax him to stop sucking (as I had tried with Sudoku when she was little), we tried something a bit more devious.

One night, after Doodle had fallen asleep in the great room during story time, I pulled out the “Thum” I had purchased for Sudoku years ago. I pulled the fingers from his mouth, dried them, and applied Thum all over them – not just on the nails. When I picked him up to carry him to bed, he started sucking again, but grimaced and stopped after about 10 seconds. He tossed in bed and fussed softly for a half hour or so that night but eventually drifted off.

I continued this ritual for about 2 weeks. I’d wait until he fell asleep, then apply the awful tasting stuff. I would also put on one application in the middle of the night, because it will wear off over time. That way, he would get that unpleasant surprise again, should he revert to sucking.

After just a few days we noticed a dramatic decrease in his sucking, both at night and during the day. A few times he commented, “My fingers taste so BAD!” The only time we were still seeing consistent sucking was when he would go to sleep at night (before I would apply the THUM.)

Here’s where we got more devious.

While Doodle was sleeping, I got a red permanent marker and made some dots on his 2 offending fingers. I “noticed” them in the morning and pointed them out to him. “You must have a rash!” That night, before he went to bed, I told him I needed to put medicine on his rash. I applied the THUM, and he easily went to sleep without sucking.

When I wanted to apply it the next few nights, Doodle resisted, telling me he wouldn’t be able to suck his fingers with the medicine on them. I told him that not sucking would be good for him (no germs!) and asked him if he knew that Sudoku had sucked a finger when she was little too. Sudoku then told him the story about how a case of poison ivy on her beloved finger had persuaded her to give up the sucking ritual. I guess that story was comforting to Doodle. The next night he didn’t resist the “medicine.”

That was the last application, and to my knowledge, Doodle hasn’t put his fingers in his mouth since. Hooray! We’ll see if this method works on our thumb-sucking Rosebud in a few years.