Mompreneur Monday- Andrea Van Ness

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Momprenuer Andrea Van Ness creates a better way to wean from thumb sucking and pacifier sucking. Thumbuddy To Love® was born out of a necessity to help children let go of a comforting habit in a fun and positive way. Most children between the age of 2 and 6 need help stopping thumb sucking and pacifier sucking but just need a boost to end what can eventually become a harmful habit. Andrea was a thumb sucker herself and she did not stop until age 6 but by that time, the damage had been done and her teeth started to push forward (along with a raised palate) and the dentist told her she would need braces due to prolonged thumb sucking. Her mother had tried everything from awful tasting thumb polishes to thumb guards and Andrea remembers that all were kind of punishing to get her to stop. It was her grandmother that made her a thumb puppet and every day she was so proud to take it to school and show it off and in a week, she quit.
Her A-HA moment came at 3 in the morning… she woke up and it dawned on her that since the time of her thumb sucking, there weren’t any positive teaching tools to help thumb suckers…only negative ones. Yes, the awful thumb polish still exists but after looking online and seeing all the chemicals in the polish, she thought there had to be a better way because kids will suck that right off!
After being a realtor for 10 years and also guiding tours in the Himalayas, she knew this was an adventure she had to embark on. She wrote the adorable children’s books that accompany each thumb/finger puppet and hired an illustrator and from there, it was just a matter of time before she had the prototypes and capital to start ordering her first inventory. “People did not believe I was going to create a thumb sucking cessation product out of nothing but I believed so strongly in it, I knew I had to do it.” Andrea told us. “I think my grandmother would have been proud.”

There is Fireman Fred for boys Firemanonthumbwithbookand Ballerina Sue for girls. Ballerinaonthumbwithbook

Each puppet comes with a whimsical and cute children’s illustrated book with a matching character and also, with the help of a dentist, she created a success chart with stickers so kids can mark off days they do not suck their thumb to stay motivated. They also come in reusable bags. Both products won a Mom’s Choice Award and are now carried in Pediatric Dentist offices, on Amazon, and on the website www.ThumbuddyToLove.com

Soon afterward, The Binky Fairy was launched to help pacifier suckers because she saw a need. The Binky Fairy was designed to help children stop pacifier sucking without all the fuss and tears. Children are read the accompanying book the night before to help them understand where the pacifier(s) will go and the Binky Fairy (like the tooth fairy) visits in the middle of the night and leaves a sweet Binky Fairy puppet to wake up to. “I wanted to make it fun for kids because giving up thumb sucking or pacifier sucking can be traumatic….I remember!” So, now, parents have a fun teaching tool that helps them break the habits. The Binky Fairy even won a PTPA Award and she hopes to get it into book stores soon. “There is still so much to do as far as launching the products so I have not had time to make more characters but hope to in the near future.”
“I really get a lot of joy when I get letters saying that it was my child’s favorite thing to go to sleep at night and that they gave up their thumb or pacifier sucking. That is all worth it!”
Each product retails for $19.95 can be found at www.thumbuddytolove.com and on Amazon (Thumbuddy to Love)

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