When my little girl was born, she had a terrible time falling asleep. Nothing helped! She would spit out pacifiers or anything we tried, and although she was happy to suck on Mamma or Dada’s pinky finger, that became a challenge because she’d cry again as soon as we popped it out of her mouth. She used to cry and cry until her little face was so red, and I was at a total loss! Even my mom, mother of 3, schoolteacher of countless kids, and grandma of four, was at a loss. “She seems mad! Mad as a hornet!” was all my mom could say about the situation.
At about 3 months, she found her fingers. It was a revelation. I’ve since become convinced beyond a shadow of a doubt that she was sucking the two middle fingers on her right hand while she was in utero, because suddenly our little girl began to smile. She would swing back and forth in her little chair, sucking contentedly, and Mamma and Dada sighed with relief as we could finally catch some of our first peaceful sleep since she had been born.
Numerous warnings from various grandparents later, citing the potential for horrific future dental deformities, we’ve opted to allow our little lady to continue sucking her fingers. She’s now 20 months old, and God bless her, she’s happy. How can we take it away from her? Everyone we meet who’s ever sucked their own fingers as a kid says that she will quit…eventually…and none of them have scary buck teeth. So, there you have it.
Now, there are a couple of minor problems associated with this finger sucking business. I’m not sure other parents at the playground or Gymboree appreciate it when our drool-handed baby touches all of the toys. My main worry, though, is that she’s more prone to stick her germy little fingers into her mouth, and every time she does, visions of rotavirus and rhinovirus dance in my head.
The solution, I’ve found, is to chase her around with a bottle of hand sanitizer in my pocket like a sherriff in the old west packing heat. I’ll say “No suck fingers!” when I see them headed to her mouth, I spritz them with one of these magic reassurance potions, she pops them into her mouth, and all is well with the universe once again.
My mission has been to find hand sanitizer sprays that aren’t full of unnecessary and even toxic ingredients, since I know whatever goes on her hands goes into her mouth. They also don’t taste terrible, which is key for a kid who eats her hands. Here are the winners that I’ve found–utter lifesavers for any mom in my position. Sure, she still gets sick, but I’m hoping that it’s at least half as often as she would otherwise.
Intelligent Nutrients Certified Organic Sanitizer: Made with vanilla, an antioxidant oil complex (the “Intellimune complex,” found in all IN products), this one smells and tastes the best of all we’ve tried. It should, considering that it’s made with all food-grade ingredients. It’s non-drying and can even serve as hair shine mist in a pinch. $12–I recommend shopping online or checking the Intelligent Nutrients website for a salon near you.
Tammy Fender The Purist Anti-Aging Hand Sanitizer: This one actually features echinacea and goldenseal, which are both supposed to be immune boosting herbs. While I’m sure they’re not present in therapeutic doses, that’s probably a good thing because then I’d have to wonder if it was safe to use this one on a kid. This is the only non-toxic sanitizer I’ve found with a foaming pump, so it’s the one for you if you (or your child) prefer that formula. The scent is light and non-invasive. $14 online.
Clean Well All-Natural Hand Sanitizer: If you’re concerned that alcohol based products will cause little hands to dry and crack (key if you live somewhere cold or high-altitude), this is a great choice. The lack of alcohol also means that it won’t sting cuts, another plus. The downside is that the herbal ingredients used to kill germs (which I believe are derived from thyme) are pretty strongly scented, so your kid is going to smell like a salad or roasted potatoes. This may be a good or a bad thing, depending on the child’s appetite: it could mean either more or less enthusiastic hand-eating. $3.99 and currently available at Whole Foods, The Vitamin Shoppe, GNC, and Amazon.com, as well as a growing number of additional retailers.