Dummies: to use or not?
Prior to getting pregnant, I remember saying to a friend that I would never use a dummy, as I saw it as a silencer rather than a form of comfort. So why did I have such a strong view on something so menial at the time, given I was childless?
I will let you in on a little secret: I was still coming home from school and having a quick suck on my dummy while sniffing another one simultaneously at the grand old age of eight. I literally cringe every time my Mum brings this up and thank the lord I didn’t get a sniff of breast-milk, as I reckon I would’ve been asking for "bitty" as an after-school snack!
When my son Flynn was around eight weeks old, I patiently sat breastfeeding him without much of a break in between feeds. I recall the wonderful Lactation Consultant Vanessa Christie coming to my house to help me feel more comfortable with feeding and her pointing out the difference between Flynn drinking milk and just sucking for comfort.
Over the next few days, I realised that Flynn was happily drinking milk for a good 30 minutes and then the cheeky monkey spent a further 20 minutes just sucking. My husband and I affectionately referred to it as rabbit sucking, because Flynn's mouth mimicked a rabbit twitching its nose.
So one day, my husband and I decided to give Flynn a dummy after we were sure he had moved from drinking to sucking. We both made a serious pact that it would only be used for the first three months and then we would ceremoniously take it away from him (Yeah right! This is the wise old me laughing at our naïve beliefs).
Something magical then happened. Feeding times were much shorter and Dad was able to hold Flynn a little more, satisfied he was fed (if he wanted more milk he would spit the dummy out). Also, Flynn started going off to sleep as soon as we put him down at bedtime and would quickly go back to sleep if he woke in the night once we popped the dummy back in his mouth. We quickly got him into a nap and bedtime routine, and felt pretty pleased with ourselves. We relaxed and the three-month window flew past. What harm can it do, we thought?
Now, my son is 10-months old and it is clear that the dummy is his vice. He is dependent on it to get to sleep - whether that’s at naptime, bedtime or waking during the night for it (he has slept from 7am to 7pm without waking so we know he can do it). I am now regretting ever giving him a dummy and don’t know how to wean him off it. Then I feel bad as his teeth are now coming through and I know the dummy gives him comfort.
So today’s blog post doesn’t have a conclusion. Instead, I am appealing to Mums and Dads who have dealt with the same issue. What do you do when they wake in the night wanting the dummy? How do you manage to prise it away from them? Flynn doesn’t use a dummy much in the day, but wants one when he has a nap, so we’re totally aware its part of the cycle in order for him to sleep. It’s how we amend his cycle. Help!