Tuesday, April 21, 2009
Soother, pacifier, dummy, sookie, paci - call it what you want. For my first it was the sookie, for my second it was the sousie. For both it was a mini contriversy.
I had 2 sookies in store before my first was born. I was fully prepared to use them mostly because my mom had a terrible time getting me and my brother to stop sucking our thumbs when we were younger (I'll admit that I sucked my thumb until I was about 6). Then I went to baby classes and breastfeeding classes. And being the new parent I was became completely scared off to use one. Breastfeeding mom's should not use a soother, I was told. I remember literally running to the drawer where I kept his soother (that he hadn't yet used) in a fit of panic deliberating whether or not it was okay to give it to him to calm him down when he was fully fed, fully dry and fully rested. I resisted as long as I could. I didn't give it to him until breastfeeding was completely established. By then I reasoned he knew the difference between a rubber nipple that doesn't give off milk and the real thing for dinner.
There's conflicting information out there about soothies. Babies naturally have a need to suck. Some find their thumbs to help them out and others don't. We've been giving soothers (and soother like things) to babies for centuries. Ever heard the expression, 'born with a silver spoon in their mouth'? Well, for some wealthy babies in the 1800's that was true. More commonly rags dipped in some sugary substance was used.
Once my oldest was on the soother, that was it, he was a sookie baby. The most common use I had for his soother was as a sleep aid once he'd finished nursing.
My second child didn't take to a soother, which was fine with us. He wasn't a thumb sucker either. He was just more contented...that is until I started to wean him. He was using me as a pacifier, not for eating and I had to figure out a way to use the breast only for eating purposes. In came the soother. And yes, although he was late at it, he took to it with great gusto.
If you do decide to use a soother with your little one be prepared to defend it, it's your choice. I've had more than one person come up to my perfectly contented little one and say, 'Get that dirty thing out of your mouth' and pull it out themselves. Boy did they get an earful of crying. (Gotta love other people who want to parent your kids for you).
Here are some tips to successful soother-ing:
-wait until breastfeeding is established before starting the soother. You want to make sure that you baby knows how to latch and feed and is gaining weight before using a soother (generally 4-6 weeks old)
-babies will generally use a soother to fall asleep and then spit it out, don't wake your baby up to put it back in their mouth. They've used it for what they need to and don't need to anymore - besides a sleeping child is a precious thing
-keep a second (and third, fourth, fifth...) soother on hand, because you know that you won't be able to find it when you really need it. Keep your spare soother(s) in a spot that both you and your spouse know for easy access
-watch for signs of wear and tear on a soother and replace it every couple of months, you don't want your little one to choke on it
-have your line of defense for using a soother ready for your relatives, neighbours, other mothers who would never do such a thing and random strangers who think they are the devil incarnate. Remember people have been using soothers for centuries with little ones. Maybe you just want to keep them off the thumb (you can take a sootehr away, but you can't take a thumb away). If it helps you and your baby, it's worth having.
-teach your little one other ways to soothe themselves. My first had a stuffed sheep for a 'lovey', my second is a big-time cuddler and hugs work wonders with him. Music is also a great tool (nothing like hearing your baby 'sing' themselves to sleep)
Not all babies will take to a soother and that's okay too. There is no 'one size fits all' for babies, they are all individuals. Find what works for you and go with it.