Thursday, January 19, 2012


I have a love-hate relationship with pacifiers. With NJ, pacifiers were sort of a given from the start. He had one in the hospital, liked it, and didn't have my boob for soothing. I didn't know up from down when it came to pacifiers, he liked it, we liked it, so we used it. I was aware that he shouldn't use it past three years old, and I knew I didn't like seeing kids walking around with pacifiers in their mouths, but other than that, hey, great, it calms him down, let's use it!

He liked the pacifier. A lot. And he wasn't picky, either. I know some kids become attached to one particular kind of pacifier and won't take any other, but NJ didn't care. If he could suck on it, he wanted it. It helped him fall asleep. It kept him calm in the car. It kept him quiet between feedings. All-in-all, I'd say the pacifier was fantastic for him. If sucking is soothing for a baby, and a pacifier is something he can safely suck on, then he should have at it!

Unfortunately, he loved the pacifier well past his second birthday, by which point I was tiring of seeing it in his mouth all the time. He couldn't/wouldn't sleep without it, and he wouldn't look for it on his own if he awoke in the night, so we'd have to go in, feel around for it, and give it back to him. He had to have it in the car. Then, of course, he'd drop it, and we'd have to fish around on the floor of the back seat trying to find it so he'd stop whining for it. "My binky! My binky! My binky!" (I don't know why he called it a binky. We always called it a paci. Funny how kids pick up on a name that they like. I assume he learned it at daycare.) We found out that the daycare managed to keep it away from him except at naptime, but he wasn't as agreeable to that with us.

Then, when he was about two years and three months old, he had an accident at daycare where he was flipped off a garden swing and knocked some teeth loose. The dentist suggested that we not use the paci at least until the teeth reintegrated (6 weeks!), but she understood that it might be impossible to keep it away from him. We managed at that point to tell him that the pacifier could hurt his teeth more and that he shouldn't have it except when he was sleeping. From then on, he only had it for naps and bedtime, which was great. Eventually, he would just forget to ask for it at bedtime, had it maybe once in three nights, and then finally just didn't use it anymore. I was so thankful that we didn't have to wrestle it away from him.

As my love-hate relationship became more of a hate>love relationship with the pacifier, we only half-heartedly tried to get SB to take one. At first, I didn't want to offer one at all, partly because I didn't want it to interfere with breastfeeding, and mostly because NJ was still using his and I hated it by that point. Our half-hearted attempt to introduce the paci at 4 weeks fell away quickly. There were times when we kind of wished he used one, like when he would be crying inconsolably in the car, and because I was the only one who could get him to sleep (yes, I was a "human pacifier"). I don't think it occurred to me at first that a pacifier would have probably gotten me a bit longer between feedings, if I had been willing to try anyway, since he was doing a lot of comfort-sucking. But once those initial problems ended, and especially when he was down to only breastfeeding at night, we were glad to have a toddler who didn't have the darn thing in his mouth all the time.

But when GI was born, we decided that maybe we'd try it again. See, we began to think back fondly on how if NJ was fussing in the car, pop in the pacifier. Trouble falling asleep? Pacifier! Wants to suck but nursed recently? Pacifier! My mother-in-law came to stay with us for a couple of months after GI was born, and she would watch him and the other boys for me while I ran errands and such (such a luxury!), and if he'd get hungry while I was out, she'd first try soothing him with the pacifier so he would wait until I got home, if I knew I would only be 15 or 20 minutes longer. (If it was longer than that, she'd give him a bottle of expressed milk - I wasn't starving my baby!) He reached a point where he was willing to accept the pacifier to help him fall asleep, to go back to sleep if he had eaten recently, and to calm him in the car. The greatest part is that his brothers can find and pop in the pacifier in the car so we don't have to reach back and feel around for it.

I'm concerned that he'll start rejecting the pacifier now, though. I've tried to give it to him a few times the past few evenings when he's been fussy, and he wants none of it. From me, he wants boob and nothing else. Now that we've decided he should have a pacifier, it would be a cruel irony if he decided he didn't want it! We'll see what happens. If he does reject it on his own, at least I won't have to worry about trying to get it away from him in toddlerhood. He has discovered the joys of sucking on his fists or fingers. I wonder if he'll be my first thumbsucker. I have mixed feelings about thumbsucking, mostly leaning toward "OH NO PLEASE NO." But there are positives - your thumbs are always there. You can't drop or lose them. You know where to find them. They never change. You never have to buy new ones. On the other hand (har har), well, hands covered in spit all the time. Dirty hands in mouth all the time. (Although, admittedly, both NJ and SB have their fingers in their mouths all the time anyway. Ew.) Can't "take away" the thumb the way you can take away a pacifier. I sucked my thumb in secret until I was seven. So, yeah. Thumbsucking, I think, would be worse than the pacifier.

A pacifier is aptly named. Sucking is calming for babies. It makes perfect sense. If they enjoy sucking, then they'll enjoy breastfeeding. The sucking is good for mom and for baby. But once milk supply and latch are  established, it is helpful to have a means to soothe the baby if mom isn't around to nurse him just at that moment, or if mom wants a few minutes to put the baby down, or if someone else is trying to get him to fall asleep when he isn't hungry. I don't, however, like seeing a pacifier dangling from the lips of a two-year-old, or stopping up the mouth of a three-year-old. I did find myself saying the other day that the pacifier is awesome, though, when it let me put GI back to sleep and then get back to what I was doing, rather than having to let him comfort nurse for hours.

I am a big fan of the "blankie," except for the "oh shoot, we forgot the blankie" moments. A lovey can be very helpful for sleep and soothing away from home, especially. NJ had six blankies. SB didn't have a lovey. I'm curious to see what kind of kid GI becomes.

No comments:

Post a Comment