Once you are ready for a more serious approach on how to stop thumb sucking, you will consider products like the Dr. Thumb thumb guard. A lot of thought and testing went into its design, and it is a thumb sucking device that was introduced in early 2000. The company behind this innovation took their work seriously and even conducted a clinical trial (discussed below), which focused on children under 4 years old. Be sure to measure before you buy. Give yourselves the best chance for success by purchasing the right fit. The small size is for kids ages 12-36 months and the large size for kids 3 to 7 years. This thumb sucking device fits either the right or left hand.
Dr. Thumb still allows the child to put their thumb into their mouth, but because of its design it “breaks the vacuum” effect so they cannot get the comforting feeling of sucking. So air passes right through when they suck. The theory is that the pleasure will be lost and the child will no longer desire the thumbsucking action.
Dr. Thumb is made of a very soft, non-toxic silicone that is safe. When you purchase the product, you will receive one Dr Thumb guard, two adjustable straps made of polyester webbing in a pastel green and black color with small, clear plastic side release buckles. A clear plastic storage case is also included. It is a nice touch and a great way to store your Dr. Thumb. The user guide could give a bit more guidance about what to expect when you start using the product with the child. It basically tells you how to put it on the child and but very little about how to bridge the gap between what to expect when your child wears a device like this the first time.
My 18-month-old daughter was a heavy thumbsucker and we really wanted her to stop because her teeth were shifting forward. We first tried Thumbusters, but she was able to take them off. Then we got this Dr. Thumb thumbguards and she was not able to it off. She cried the first day of having to wear it, but then got used to it. After about a week she completely kicked the habit!
— Tara, Amazon reviewer
Dr. Thumb has a nice reward chart that highlights the different milestones nicely. The habit breaking is a journey you go through with your child. There will be ups and downs and difficult and easy days. The motivational chart plays an important role in the process. Their chart is cute and colorful and looks a bit like a game you would play. It is not included in the package, you must print it off yourself from their website. This means the stickers are also not included. This is not a big deal; your child may want to personalize the chart anyway by going to the store and choosing their own stickers.
Dr. Thumb works much the same as Tguard’s product. This product is nicer than TGuard for the kids three and under if the child doesn’t try to remove it. If the child tries to wiggle out of it, they will likely succeed. The Tguard fits a bit tighter and the silicone is a bit harder. We think it doesn’t need to be as rigid for the younger kiddo as long as they keep it on. The webbed straps are nicer against the skin than Tguards disposable straps.
Right off the bat, the Dr. Thumb is more effective than a thumb sucking glove because it is more difficult for them to get it off (but not impossible), and it is more effective than anti-nail biting polish like Mavala Stop because young children quickly get used to its taste. This product is also easy to attach, made of non-toxic silicone, and less expensive than its direct competitor the T-Guard. Cons include that it is somewhat uncomfortable to wear, and is difficult to clean as dirt/germs and slobber collect in the creases and can eventually find their way into your child’s mouth. And as will almost all products that help kids stop thumb sucking as well as stop sucking fingers, the child can still put their thumb in their mouth while wearing it – sure they may take less pleasure, but it does not prevent them from doing it.
The company recommended the device to be worn day and night for 4 weeks, although and they claim the habit may be stopped in as little as 2 weeks 92% success rate. While their data is based on “fuzzy” testing, in truth, with an involved parent and a motivated child this is possible. In fact, that is really the secret for success with breaking any unwanted habit. However, if the parent is not involved then the kid won’t be motivated and will refuse to wear it or will take it off when mom isn’t looking. It is important to continue using the device even after you think the habit is completely gone, just to make sure child is done with thumb or finger sucking for good and to ensure the habit will not return.
The company Dr. Thumb also created this excellent short, one-minute video that is worth watching. The company is out of the United Kingdom, which makes finding the product in the US sometimes difficult, and returns may not be worth the effort depending on who you buy from. At the time of this writing, their price of about 25 British Pound Sterling converts to $37 USD.
The Dr. Thumb website has a lot of great information and an easy-to-read format, and they appear to be a good company. A have certainly done their research and have a wonderfully informative website.
A common question is about Dr. Thumb thumb guard vs T-Guard thumb guard, don’t worry, many people get this confused. First, while similar products they are sold by different companies. Dr. Thumb sells only one thumb sucking guard product, in two sizes. Contrastingly, T-Guard (the company) sells a stop finger sucking and a stop thumb sucking device, and either can be purchased in any of three sizes. Both products are specifically designed for both baby thumb sucking ages 1-3, and kids ages 3-7. None of these companies sell products for adult thumb sucking. There are several other important differences. Compare all the best devices to stop thumb sucking here.
Size matters. Although both manufacturers report that their thumb sucking guard is designed for baby thumb sucking all the way up to seven years old, they both work extremely well for kids between 3 and 5 for a couple of reasons. In both cases, thumb and wrist sizes of little kids below three years old, generally, are just too small for the product to stay on. Kids squirm, skin stretches, and with their slobber is a lubricant the thumb will find its way out of the guard and into the mouth. You could tighten the wrist strap, but in some cases moms have reported that over tightening causes abrasion. For mild mannered babies though, this may be a problem. On the other hand, kids over five years don’t like that the thumb guard gets in the way of their play time, and kids older than five are smart enough to remove the thumb guard. Moreover, comfort is a very important factor to kids when trying to get them to comply, especially those kids five years old and up. Although these guards can be effective at stopping thumb sucking, they are not comfortable, and they get in the way of basic activities such as using silverware or drinking a cup of milk.
The company Dr. Thumb held a clinical trial at Yonsei University in 2001, which included 25 children. Of the subjects, (7) were one-two years old, (10) were two-three years old, and (8) were older than three. At that time (it is assumed) there was only one small size, and it was designed for baby sucking thumb problems.
The company now has two sizes. Results were measured after four weeks. After four weeks, 24% of the children completely stopped thumb sucking, 68% showed less thumbsucking, and 8% did not show any improvement. And those who successfully broke the habit did so in an average of 2-3 weeks. As an aside, for comparison purposes it would be helpful to see a clinical trial on thumb sucking adults and people who want to know how to stop finger sucking.
As you can see, Dr. Thumb thumb guard takes their unwanted habit stopping business seriously. You can also visit their Facebook page and see photos of children who successfully stopped!