Why Adult Babies Suck Their Thumbs

A Baby Boy Will Suck His Thumb (Photo courtesy Dunston the Lion)

You slip into the nursery in the morning. Your little boy is asleep, his blanky a tangled mess at his feet. In the soft lighting of the room, you can already see that you were smart to put him in a night diaper: he soaked it while he slept and needs a morning change.

He has his favorite plushy pulled tight to his chest with one hand and his other hand is at his mouth. His thumb is slipped into his mouth and he seems to be sucking on it gently, in tune to whatever dreams he’s having.

You very gently and quietly get ready and then start to change him. Your little guy has started wetting more and more during his sleep, and you feel a sense of warm happiness as you realize that night wettings have become natural to your little guy.

He shuffles a little, stretching almost, groggy look on his face and you see him blink awake, and watch the realization in his eyes that his daddy is changing him, that it’s morning maybe, that he is safe and warm and having his diaper changed.

With your little boy half awake you are very gentle as you lift him slightly to slip a clean diaper under him.

He gives you a happy little squirm and then he gives a little shake of his head as he realizes that he is sucking on his thumb and pulls it out. You sense that he might be a little shy or embarrassed. But you give him a gentle little circular rub on his tummy and then you gently place your hand over his, and bring it back to his mouth.

“That’s OK, little one,” you say, and he noticeably relaxes again as he starts to suck on his thumb again as you carefully tape up his diaper and assure yourself that your little guy is safe and secure.

Thumbs and Pacis
Being an adult baby is not a role: it’s an expression of that incredible side of someone that isn’t afraid to ask for love, care and attention. I often hear the term “role playing” but usually that simply means sharing time with someone online and imagining different scenes and situations.

But when you’re caring for a little boy, it’s important to know that he’s not playing a role: he’s expressing who he is, and he’s entering a place of safety where he is able to feel a sense of warmth and comfort, and where it becomes difficult for your little guy to do much more than follow his emotions, his needs, and his sense of vulnerability.

Imagine him waking up, maybe in his nice cozy crib, and finding that his daddy is changing his wet diaper: still half-asleep, he is still in the emotional, floating dream state, and his mind is gently soothed by your touch, the careful way you change him, the comforting little touches, the way you touch his cheek or the way you powder him with soft circular motions.

His spirit is guided by the trust and safety you give him. He is in a state of dreaming, emotion and physical touch. All of his senses seem to blur: he hears the crinkling of a new diaper, the plastic rustle of the plastic sheet on the crib mattress, he feels your gentle hands and the soft padding of a new diaper underneath him, he senses the softness of his blanky, he smells the clean smell of baby powders and lotions and a lingering scent of wet diapers.

In that world of feeling and sensation, he will grasp for a pacifier or his thumb.

Don’t worry if he doesn’t have his paci: let him suck his thumb, and if he hesitates or seems shy about it, encourage him.

This will subtly remind him that he will always have ways that he can express who he is: even out at school a quiet moment by himself with his thumb in his mouth will remind him that he’s daddy’s little boy.

It’s Why It’s Called a Soother

When your little guy sucks his thumb (or his paci) it’s not unlike the way he has his plushy with him all the time, or the way he carries his blanky (trailing along behind him like Linus) – it gives him comfort.

And sometimes, that sense of comfort is an important way that he calms himself at moments when he feels the most vulnerable, the most gentle, and the most in need of a daddy who he trusts and loves and relies on to make it safe to life in that world of sensation and floating feelings which is the gift that he gives to YOU.

When he sleeps his thumb into his mouth, realize that he is actually telling you something, even though he can barely express what those things are:

“I feel warm, and vulnerable, and little …. I feel like I might float away, I feel like crying because I feel so open and little, and I feel like being cuddled and I don’t know what to do with all of these feelings but they feel nice, and I need my daddy, and I’m just trying to soothe all of these feeling rolling around inside as I let my daddy be my world, and the one I rely on to accept me and love me for who I am.”

Now, for you little guys out there – I wonder whether sucking a thumb feels different than your paci? Do you find yourself slipping your thumb in your mouth at times of stress or anxiety, or at times when you’re calm, or when you’re feeling floaty and cared for?

And please just remember – daddy accepts you and knows that in every little gesture like the way you suck your thumb, you are giving him a gift and that gift means the world to him.

40 Replies to “Why Adult Babies Suck Their Thumbs”

  1. I actually like being in the crib with my Teddies and my Binkie but I like my binkie in my Mouth ALL night long and then I like to keep the teddies next to my chest and my pilly to hug so that I never let them go. Last night for the first time in months I somehow ended up with Giraffie – not sure why as its usually the two bears but when I wealized it I kept him nice and warm because Giraffie is fwom Afwica and he gets cold here at night. He usually stays under a blanket so he stays warm even in summer here. Not much interested in my thumm unless you count nail biting – I like my nap time and night time binkie so much better. πŸ™‚

  2. daddy – this is probably one of the most powerful articles you’ve written yet. having someone acknowledge that “Being an adult baby is not a role: it’s an expression of that incredible side of someone that isn’t afraid to ask for love, care and attention.” and “he’s expressing who he is, and he’s entering a place of safety where he is able to feel a sense of warmth and comfort” is really amazing. you’ve shown again how you totally understand the special soul of an adult baby boy.

    for me, there is a difference between sucking my thumb and sucking a paci. when i suck my thumb i can experience the wetness and warmth of my thumb in a way that i can’t when i’m sucking a paci. both help me feel really babyish and little and vulnerable. one of the sweetest things a daddy can do is take my hand, gently form it into a thumbsucking position, and guide my thumb to my mouth…that really tells me its ok. having permission does seem to be important. πŸ™‚

    again, thanks for an awesome post.

  3. i remember the first time someone took my hand and guided my thumb back to my mouth after i felt shy about being found sucking my thumb. it was like the nicest feeling ever! i was not old enough to realize what you explained here – that it was giving me permission to be the baby i was inside. i still have not stopped being a thumb sucker. i cant imagine how i could ever give up something so personal even when ppl try to get me to stop.
    my binky is what i use instead of my thumb. its because i have so much to do with both hands i like my binky. i try to use it at nights because everybody tells me thumbsucking will mess up my front teeth but when im asleep i loose it and find my thumb there when i wake up. binky is really cool because its kinda like a baby bottle which is something i totally luv and need lots of times.
    if i had to choose something to give up there would be no way i could give up something as personal as my thumb. im just happy i get to have both that and my binky.

  4. Such a great post. πŸ™‚ Sucking on my thumb makes me feel a bit “littler” than my paci does (or as i used to call it, my pokey).

  5. I gets this wonderful feeling everytime I read a new post fro you…it makes me feel accepted, special, and…understood. I dont want to find someone who will indulge in ‘playing games’ or ‘role playing time’ with me. I want a time where I finally just feel safe and warm and accepted and understood. its an unreplacable feeling, and one that lifts my heart while reading your posts. Oh how I do wish for so many more. One day Ill find myself a daddy and Ill show him these posts and stories and advice…and he will cuddle me and hopefully find that these posts inspire him as well and make him want to be the best daddy he can be! Thanks so much!

  6. I like my pacis, each color and style says what kinda mood i’m in. I also like my paci’s because i can take them everywhere and they’re fun to collect

  7. I like that Foxx… What an idea a collection. I do however collect the various diaper pins of all different colors. I think my binkies get used too much to be collected though unfortunately or Fortunately??? πŸ™‚

  8. Sooo true πŸ˜€ i loves my paci most cause my thumb cuts my mouth with the nail, then i tend to apply to much pressure when i sleep and end up with a very sore thumb (bit through more then one paci at night) but my paci’s end up giving me the sensation im looking for to retreat into bein lil like when my daddy says, im his little boy, while sucking on my paci and holding him close with his collar round my neck i am happy, safe, secure, warm and lil and i dont have to worry, cause he knows that me being big is the act i have to put on to be able to have a life that will allow me to be little when i dont have to interact with the big world out there.

    pacis rule and abs drool! and thumbs are great for sucking πŸ˜€

  9. … ” not playing a role .. but expressing who he is .. ” Once again, you express perfectly what many of us feel and believe..

    And I want to add, ” not a fetish”. ADULTS have fetishes and play roles, not babies. Babies simply suck and cuddle and wet and dream. Many ABs and DLs keep their activites at the level of role play and fetish, because it is safer that way. They don’t become vulnerable, they don’t run the risk of being hurt. But they never come within a hundred miles of those strange magic and sacred places, in which we can float away on a surreal blanket of trust and dreaming, where we connect with our true selves and find integration, authenticity and healing.

    My Nanny tells me that she considers me very brave for daring to wet ( and more ) my nappies for her.. That could sound silly, coz just “letting go and letting flow” sounds like the easiest thing in the word.. But to trust another person so totally, to surrender to him/her responsibility for our most basic and personal needs .. this involves a huge and daring “leap of trust”..

    It follows, of course, that those of us who have the privilege of being Daddy to an Adult Baby must regard this as a sacred trust, and NEVER EVER EVER do or say anything that could hurt or wound a baby. Just as Baby’s trust and vulnerability take him to a “place” where he can find deep integration and healing, it also leaves him defenceless, unguarded, so that anything hurtful goes straight to the heart. Most of all, just as a “real” parent never abandons his/her child, so we must NEVER abandon or push away a person who has bonded with us in a Daddy/Baby relationship. I make a point of never inviting a person to call me “Daddy” unless I am willing to make a life-long commitment.

    I can write this feelingly because, one night, several years ago, when I was diapered and regressed and totally vulnerable, unguarded and defenceless, I was pushed out of the crib by the daddy I unquestioningly trusted and totally loved, in order to make way for a new, more favoured, baby. Daddy and new-baby were groping each other sexually, in the same bed ( actually reaching over my sleeping little body to do so !) and I couldn’t understand that, because, well, I am after all a Baby. ( not “role play”, not “fetish”, but “BABY”..) I don’t want to blame .. I don’t want to carry life-long resentment .. I don’t want to wallow in self-pity .. I don’t want to moan and groan and be a “victim”.. The world has too much resentment and too many self-proclaimed “victims”.. But five years later my heart still bleeds and I still don’t know how to recover the ability to trust..

    Baby Johnnie ( Sydney, Australia)

  10. hehe i like this article it makes me feel fuzzy. i would have to say that my paci is nice especially at night cause my thumb comes out sometimes. hehe

  11. Another well written article I must say. I do like a paci once in a while as it does make me feel a bit more secure and babyish. I am a boy by heart but like to be a baby once in a while. I always sleep with my teddy bear and one in a while I will suck my thumb. Prefer the paci to the thumb though.

  12. Dear Daddy,
    I know you write all about little boys and i think it is awesome! but I was reading everything you have on this site and all of your great advice can also pertain to babygirls…but i understand your site very well…Just is a wittle wish if u could include us too..I know alot of your advice would help my daddy too! …*huggs* ~babybecca <3

  13. This was really helpful as I still don’t quite understand how this is more than role playing for my baby boy. I’ll definitely encourage him to suck his thumb when he wants to like a good mama.

  14. I goto bed every night with snuggles that is my teadybear and i always have my blankie and paci I almost always wake in the morning hugging snuggles and I still have my blankie but my paci is always on the floor so I just roll over stick my thumb in my mouth and go back to sleep

  15. I wanted to say I totally agree with baby becca πŸ™‚ us baby girls need daddys too! I know that my daddy would love to read your advice and I would love to see us little girls included as well πŸ™‚ Your posts are so heartwarming I have come close to tears many times for the hopes and wishes that some day I will be in the same position as your baby boys. I just love reading your posts and have even showed daddy them anyway even if they are more geared towards baby boys – keep up the great work!

  16. I go to sleep every night with my binkie in my mouth after I have had my bottle in my crib. I have a special Pilly and I have my Care bare and my boo boo bear that I snuggle with in between my pillow and me to keep them safe and warm. During all this I have to have my binkie to suck on all night long to make me feel like a baby and feel secure in my crib. πŸ™‚

  17. Sucking my thumb is what made me more comfortable with nighttime diaper soaking. I used to suck my thumb a lot later at nite watching tv and it was getting real red and sore. Daddy suggested I should drink a baby bottle instead and started making me warm milk before bed. it was good and helped relax me. That was a few years ago and now every nite before bed I have my bottle while I’m hearing my bedtime story or watching tv. In the morning I wake up with a full soaked set of thick double cloth diapers with a soaker pad insert. My plastic pants keep my jammies and bed dry and I can enjoy the warm wet morning. Daddy smiles as he changes me and knows I had a very relaxing sleep and was able to wet myself like all little boys do. Im very glad he gives me my bottle each nite and my thumb is too! πŸ™‚

  18. There’s nothing like a thumb sucking adult baby. He/she looks so innocent, contented, needy, dependent, and a lot more. I could cuddle and bottle feed, diaper change, etc. a thumb sucker full time!

  19. I prefer my paci more than my thumb, but if i cant find my paci, then i will suck my thumb *laughs* but that dosent happen to often as i make a point to keep my paci on me at all times, even though I may not be nursing it, I KNOW that I have my paci incase i need to seclude myself from the public to nurse my paci (#^_^#)

  20. i have been an avid thumb sucker for 22 years at my big side being 25 years old its been most of my life i never wanted to give it up it was a comfort that noone could take from me my mouth grew arround it with no overbite at all .when i had a binki that fit properly i loved that i would wake up with it still in my mouth after sleeping all night like my thumb does when i fall asleep and shift and my thumb falls out it also has stoped my snoring although it gets in the way of my tounge ring unlike my thumb so i have to take the ring out so for me theres nothing better than my thumb i dont even notice sucking it its as natural to me as blinking but untill i lost my binki i was falling in love with it and dont really sleep much now that i dont have it anymore so i cant choose just one daddy can i keep them both pretty please

  21. i would not know how to act around my daddy when i first meet him i know ill be scared and shy but it gonna be hard for me i try to learn keep my paci in my mouth if that falls out the i suck on my thumb so im gonna be really scared soon

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