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March 20, 2007

Movie: Learning to Suck

A lot has been written about thumb vs. pacifier. We quickly welcomed the pacifier, and so did he. Recently, though, he has taken matters into his own hands, so to speak. It makes me wonder what the books are talking about: in many of these "either/or" matters the baby is apt to choose both, and regardless, it's likely to be the baby who chooses. And babies don't read.

I thought of babies as born thumbsuckers, if not addicted to pacifiers, but the variation among them is considerable: some do, some don’t, some go from one to the other, for some it’s finger sucking instead, or even nothing, and so on. Still, I was surprised at how long it took Felix to learn to suck his thumb given that thumbsucking runs in his genes on both sides. In fact, he still doesn’t really seem to get it, now, at six months old. In this film, though, I suppose it was mostly a question of the size ratio between hand and mouth: at this stage it is perhaps more satisfying to suck an entire fist than one tiny digit. Also, at this age the default position for a baby’s hand is a fist, so sucking a thumb would require an extra bit of coordination. This baby, at any rate, stayed with the fist for a long time. These days he mostly sucks on bars of wood.

Posted by talia at March 20, 2007 4:42 PM