Attached at the mouth.
It took some patience before you found a soother he’d accept (one that didn’t make him gag – yuck!) but now that he’s older, you’re starting to have second thoughts. You’re also starting to have second glances from strangers who think they know best. So, cut it out and have to deal with so. much. resistance, or don’t cut it out and have to deal with dentists/in-laws/critics… what to do?
Cut the cord cleverly.
A reader recently contacted us about her eight month-old’s pacifier habit. Her hubby wanted to put the kaibosh on the crutch, whereas she felt they could wait until their baba was a little bit bigger. Mom and Dad just could not get on the same page and she wanted an unbiased observer to throw in two more cents. So here goes.
When Alex was a baby, I was terrified of nipple confusion, so we waited six weeks before trying to introduce a pacifier. He pretty much laughed in my face as he pushed it away. I tried too many brands and wasted too much money before admitting defeat. He didn’t accept anything synthetic to suck on until the highly-anticipated/dreaded/eye-opening night that we sleep-trained. He was old enough to have an attachment object, so I gave him a receiving blanket I’d previously slept with (side note: I was instructed to give him something with my scent on it to comfort and relax him. Total Fail.) He tossed it out of his crib the first night (I gave it back, he tossed it out, I gave it back, he tossed it out… such an entertaining dance!), tossed less on the second, and cuddled up with it on the third. Not because it smelled like me (FAIL), but because he’d found a replacement for me. And thus, the suckie blanket was born.
When Jack was a baby, I scoffed at the nipple confusion fear mongering and gave him a pacifier on day six. Breastfeeding was well established and he’d regained his birth weight, so I felt confident. He welcomed the susu and we both fell in love. It calmed him down when he was fussy, kept him happy in the car, and made his sleep stretches really stretch. It also didn’t affect breastfeeding one bit. He nursed, I did the sleepy swaperoo, and we both drifted off into dreamland. It was heaven. Until it wasn’t. When he was about nine weeks old, he started waking more frequently because he’d misplaced his beloved paci. I knew the theory about leaving a zillion within reach, but I was too cheap to buy a zillion and since I’d already raised one baby pacifier-less, I figured it was no big deal to cut it out. And it wasn’t. Sure, he was a little upset and he probably paged me a little more often, but he quickly got used to the new norm and we both moved on.
Jack never developed a replacement sucking habit, meanwhile Alex kept it up for years. Over three years. It made sleep so easy and with another baby thrown into the mix, we DID NOT want to mess with Alex’s sleep. But just before he turned four years old, we decided it was time. It helped that Jack (the baby) was sleeping through the night. Alex was old enough for us to have a logical conversation about big kids and braces (not that we were too concerned about orthodontics – if you’ve seen our childhood pics then you know that there is NO WAY any of our munchkins are escaping their teenage years train-track-free) and he agreed he was ready to move on. He chose a cold-turkey date, we stickered up the calendar, and the hype began. When the big day came he boxed up his blankets for Goodwill (I secretly saved his favourite) and I reiterated how proud I was, what a good sharer he was, how happy the next little baby would be… and so on and so on and so on. He was a bit reluctant to walk away, but a trip to a nearby toy-store to pick up a new sleeping buddy distracted him before he actually shed a tear.
I never really bothered to give Lola a pacifier, but Nona did give her a Dolly last Christmas and she immediately became attached. So much so that when we recently lost it (and by ‘lost’, I mean misplaced somewhere in the house) Nona scoured the local stores (and some not-so-local ones) to find her replacement. Lola was over the moon to have Dolly back, and what parent doesn’t want her baby over the moon? I’m not at all concerned that she’s so attached to something that gives her so much comfort, although I am slightly concerned that Dolly number one is watching from behind a dresser somewhere and plotting against us Lotso style. We still love you Dolly the first… can’t we all just get along?!
You can teach your toddler to adapt if that’s what’s best for your fam. But if it gives them comfort, gives you peace, and isn’t hurting anybody, why mess with a good thing? The longer a habit persists the more work it’ll take to break, but only Mom and Dad can both decide if it’s worth it. Letting him pick out a new toy in exchange for a few years of extra shut-eye… no-brainer.
Leave a comment below, or email us if you’re really butting heads and need an arbitrator… we can help!