Let me start by saying that it is impossible for me to write this post without sounding judgmental. With that in mind I think it’s important that I preface this post with the outcome to our dilemma – L has a dummy. Keep this in mind as you read on!
We hate dummies! D and I have always had our feet firmly planted in the ‘no dummy’ corner. I hate looking at toddlers playing with them in their mouths, I hate toddlers trying to talk with them in their mouths and I hate perfectly happy babies being plonked down with a dummy in their mouth. Don’t get me started on dummy clips!! I don’t like the idea of dummies in the newborn phase when breastfeeding is establishing and babies have strong needs for sucking. This attitude puts me somewhat on the outta, with several friends saying they tried desperately to get their baby to take a dummy!
My C was a comfort sucker and this suited us well. As tough as the first few weeks were, particularly the evenings when it felt like she fed for 5 hours straight, I knew it wouldn’t be long until she found her hand or fingers or was able to hold a comforter of some description. We made it and I was proud!
Second time round my ability to be everything for my child at all times is put to the test. I love my baby with all my heart and would love to sit with her from dawn to dusk if she needed it, but reality is I also have a busy, busy, mischievous, explorer of a toddler who I also adore and who I also need to keep safe. At 10 weeks L had some very unsettled days and sucking on my little finger seemed to be the only thing that settled her. She is not a fan of comfort feeding but needed to/ wanted to suck. At Day 3, toddler pushed to her limit, me to mine, I made the call and asked D to buy a dummy. You can imagine my joy when she refused it! A few more tries though and she was off like a pro!
I tossed the idea of a dummy around for the next week and a bit. Sometimes offering it to, others not. Every time I put it in her mouth D and I would get sad. To me this was a failure. I couldn’t give everything to my child so we turned to outside help. Millions of mum-guilt thoughts rushed through me head: ‘what if I miss her hunger cues and keep plugging and mess up my supply?’, ‘what if she feels she is missing out on physical contact with me?’ and then more practical thoughts ‘what if I mess up her great sleeping and have to get up a million times a night’ . After a week and a half of this new habit/need (??) my neck and back were hurting from holding L to sleep too much and I was becoming very selective about when we went out, knowing that I had to put L in the pram asleep or I would have a grumpy baby on my hands.
Everything came to a head when I tried to take an overtired L to the shops to do some Christmas jobs. I fed her at the shops so I knew she was full but still she was grumpy in her pram. Happy as Larry in my arms or with my finger in her mouth but grumpy if left alone. I have become a big fan of baby carrying since having L (wish I had done more with C) but it’s not always a practical option. Sometimes I want space! I phoned D in a stressed out panic. I felt trapped at home by my baby who sleeps all the time!! It felt that the only time that was suitable to Miss L for an outing was between 6:30am and 10am and then again sometime after 4pm! Not practical!! D and I had a chat that night and with positivity and love he asked me,”is your sanity worth more than your dislike of dummies” and I realized it was!
So we have decided that L will have a dummy to settle herself. This morning I went out for 4 hours with my girls – besides a feed half way through my girl was very settled. We would like her to only have her dummy in her bedroom, the pram and in the car. I continue to put her to sleep with a comforter in the hope that this will become more of a comfort to her and I remove the dummy just as she drops off to sleep in the hope that she continues to resettle herself when transitioning between a sleep cycle. Day 1 and I’m feeling ok about our decision! My hands are free to be with my toddler which keeps peace on that front and my baby is able to settle herself to sleep.
One of the hardest things I find as a parent is managing my own expectations and adapting these expectations to suit my children. They didn’t come to this world aware of my ‘rules’ and beliefs. They came to this world as individuals, with their own needs and desires. At this time of her life L needs to suck and for us, at this stage, a dummy is going to meet her needs without impacting negatively on the rest of the family. My girlfriend said to me this morning ‘Dont set rules that are going to disappoint you if they are broken. Wise words I feel!