September 08th, 2014

Let’s Hear it for Babies Who Suck!!!

Very possibly, from womb to grave, we as human beings whom God created as we are, engage in at least two observable reverting behaviors. Reverting is about going back to a more comfortable time; reverting behaviors are those behaviors that we may engage in to comfort us during times of stress.

One of these prominent behaviors is rocking. I have not seen the following theory actually published so it is my theory I suppose. I believe that, as mother’s walk about, babies experience rocking in her warm, cozy womb. The evidence I use to support this is that– well all mothers know that when we are up and about while pregnant, the baby is still; however, when we sit down, the baby starts his/her Olympic training – doing “womb gymnastics”. Additionally, when the baby emerges from the womb, he/she tends to sleep more during the day and less at night. This would be consistent with a sleep schedule that existed due to rocking during the day while the mother was up and about and, as the mother rests at night, being up and about in her womb.

People who are autistic and do not attend to social cues rock to soothe themselves. The rest of us use rocking chairs or swings, hammocks or just grab a baby and start swaying =) so as not to appear “abnormal” (which begs the question of normal v. abnormal…but that is another topic for another time).

Now let’s look at the other form of reverting – the one this educational journey was prompted by as I sought to answer a young sweet mother’s dismay at her little one’s pacifier desires: the other reverting behavior is oral stimulation.

Babies have been filmed in the womb sucking their thumb and if they do not suck in the womb, pretty much as soon as they emerge, IF THEY ARE HEALTHY they are seeking to suck. Additionally, we who have charge over babies are constantly monitoring them as, while exploring their environment, they want to do so by testing everything with their mouths. So babies will suck their thumbs or fingers or a pacifier until society or those pesky dentists say “no more” (by the way, I have seen repeated examples of people who suck their thumbs for long periods with no dental disturbance and I have seen others who quit early and could use some dental correcting; but any way about it, it is easier to straighten teeth than neuroses). So then the child stops sucking and the teenager and adult starts eating, smoking, drinking or engaging in some other neurotic behavior (obsessions, compulsions, controlling behaviors, hosts of other anxieties in an anxiety-inspiring society).

Almost every addiction has an oral component (not that this is the only component but it is a component that needs to be attended to if a person is to be successful at stopping the addiction). Many people who stop smoking subsequently gain weight. There is truly only one common denominator between a cigar or cigarette and food: oral stimulation.

Healthy babies are driven to do what God has designed them to do without the stop sticks of adult knowledge. These are the things that, during this unique developmental period help them to develop normally and become healthy adults. Babies explore, crawl, walk, pre-verbally cry for what they need, comfort themselves via sucking and rocking when no one is available to comfort them (because God knew Mommy and Daddy are human and need to sleep), etc. I would rather my child suck her/his thumb and rock all her/his life denying traditional silly social morays than to use some other unhealthy means of comforting herself/himself or than to be neurotic in a crazy world.

So, feel blessed with your healthy babies as they desire to orally explore their environment and then – when they get tired and are a little stressed – suck their thumb, fingers, pacifier. In other words: LET’S HEAR IT FOR RESTED PARENTS AND ALL OF THOSE HEALTHY BABIES WHO SUCK!!!

A sad addendum: Consider all the babies in the world who don’t have the attention of a loving Mommy or Daddy. God mercifully and graciously gave them thumbs and fingers and the intrinsic knowledge that they may be used to soothe; without these gifts from God, their world would be even more tragic.

Our God is a God of great love and compassion and his design is perfect

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