Preteen / Teenager's issue of comforting themselves through use of thumb sucking, pacifier / Bottle

Use of pacifiers and Thumb sucking

This subject was recently brought to my attention by a family incontinent support group regarding this issue of older kids use of thumb sucking.

I have been running family incontinent support groups for 20 years and about 5 years ago. I was taken back for the first time when I head of older kids use of Thumb sucking to comfort themselves.

So, I was interested in finding out from our group of some 70 families, if their children indeed still use this method to comfort themselves this way.

I didn’t think I would get much of response with older kids still using this method to comfort themselves. However, to my surprise I got a lot of responses!

It seems like bedwetting is a closet subject and no one talks about bedwetting because of being afraid of being ridicule! This seems true with thumb sucking.

Well, not only I got kids started commenting on sucking their thumb; some then volunteered they use a pacifier (which, for some reason, call it passey) and few still use a bottle. I have to admit I was surprised at the fact 15yrs this subject never came up nor did I think it was ever necessary to ask about it.

I believe the reason it was never brought up by kids for the same reason they don’t like talking about diapers make them feel babyish and did not want anyone to know they still suck their thumb and especially the use of a pacifier and even a bottle.

I then started contacting kids and parents directly about the use of thumb sucking Pacifier/bottle and found it was more common than I thought, which made me rethink this not one of the children regressing with the uses of thumb sucking Pacifier/bottle. However, a method of them self-nurturing oneself to help them feel better when upset or help fall asleep.

Now I found very mature teenagers still using these things, and they were not immature at all.

This got me thinking that this was conditioning that all toddlers go through from their parents when a toddler when got upset and started crying. The parents proceed to give them a pacifier or bottle to help calm themselves down. So this is a learn response carried over like a reflex when upset or trying to get to sleep.

There seems to be no correlation being mature or immature with the use of thumb sucking Pacifier/bottle but one of them self-nurturing oneself.

The following came from our family incontinent support group. I have changed their names but not the ages to protect their privacy.

Here are some comments that have been made during the past, and I know there is a lot more from kids in the group as well either told me or checked off subject of interest to discuss on use of pacifiers or thumb sucking, pacifiers / bottle.

I use to use a passy too until last year. sometimes I still suck my thumb at nght but not every nigh

Mike 14

Hey Lennie,
U havent been on much, hope u are ok? I am not sure where u live but hope things are back to normal if u were affected by the hurricame?
Yaeh I suck my thumb sometimes as well, they say its for comfort, well yeah may be right, some guys did it a lot at the childrens home. How`s your wetting probs now?
Write back ,

Dave 14

Hi Steve,

I thought I would write back to you again on this subject since it was/is such a large part of my son's life. Mark is still in diapers and plastic panties at night and probably always wil be. I had never discontinued the use of pacifiers with him during the evening diapering before bed partly out of habit and mostly because it was a very normal part of diapering him since he had been a toddler as well as comforting him and giving him something to do while I was pinning his diaper on him. This was very normal for us when he was five years old and we were doing the same thing when he was 10 years old. A baby bottle at bedtime was quite common too and these things can become so commonplace in a family that you just never give them a second thought. A child passes through these years it seems so quickly. There were a few times I purposely left out the pacifier when starting to diaper him and realized he was quite upset and wanted it. He asked for it, begged usually and I found it was much better for him to have it and it was in the privacy of our home so I never considered taking it away after those times. His diapers were very necessary and the pacifier was simply a part of those. Naturally, before I knew it he was in his teens ( happens to all of us doesn't it ) and I was still diapering him every evening and he was still using his pacifier. His desire or need for the bottle at bedtime had slowed way down but not stopped entirely and I decided long ago not to worry about that either. When he was ready to give that and maybe the pacifier up, it would be fine at whatever time in his life.

I have talked to my son about thise things and he is still not bothered by the fact that he uses a pacifier. The pacifier lets him think about other things while being diapered even though he is not bothered about being diapered. It is just a convenient distraction and he enjoys it and feels he still has a need. We are very discrete about his pacifier use as well as his need for diapers and plastic panties. As you stated, the pacifier is no different to him or I than a favorite blanket. I would encourage other parents to not worry about their children continuing the use of a favorite pacifier in the privacy of their own home if they want to. Especially in this situation where so many are still wearing diapers.

Marlene .

Hi everyone,

Jessica recently asked me to get her a pacifier. Originally I wasn't comfortable sharing that, but I figure there's no harm in mentioning it. I did get her one, and she's been using it occasionally this past week. Not all the time, and not all night (which is good b/c otherwise I'd worry about her teeth), but occasionally throughout the day. She hadn't used one prior to this since she was 2.

Like Steve said, it is better than drugs, alcohol, etc, so I don't think there's really anything wrong with it. Does anyone else have experience with a child wanting a pacifier after going a long time without one?

Girl 9yrs

"First, I apologize for my anonymity, but this is a particularly sensitive topic for me.

The NUK company (from Germany) makes a large, adult sized pacifier shaped exactly like those for babies and toddlers. It's often known as a NUK 5, and is sold as a medical device for retraining after serious strokes. It also works well for about 70% of users to eliminate snoring.
My wife likes that I use one when I sleep in our bed, where without it I would snore so loud I often wakened myself! If I sleep in my recliner, I rarely snore and thus rarely use it on those nights.

So, yes, there are even adults who sleep with a pacifier for one reason or another. There are a variety of reasons for using a pacifier even as an adult.

I hope everybody has a GREAT day and weekend!"

I agree with steve this and still at bed time first get a pacifier size 5 nuk then get diapered for the night and the two just kind of go together as it is only me and my Mom that know about it and it keeps me from snoring and makes it easier to get to sleep


My youngest boy still sucks a paci and uses a bottle, however he is slightly immature for his age and I am trying to wean him off it, the bottle that is, I dont mind him sucking a paci. The other boys used to suck a paci if they were stressed but not so much now, however Nick sometimes still does, if that calms him down then its ok with me

Youngest 11 and the other boy 16

My conclusion there must be some need for it, otherwise they would not continue in the use of thumb sucking, Pacifier/bottle to self-nurture oneself. I guess this is better than teen's self-medicating themselves with drugs.

I am not sure why they all came forward to share that they indeed use these things to comfort themselves. Maybe like the bedwetting issue they never in the past got a chance to talk about it openly before and sort of a release to share this now, and perhaps they find this group non judge mental.

Steven F. Trimarco
Real Corporation
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