Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Bye, Bye Pacifier

If you've been around a while, you might remember that I was torn about whether or not to introduce a pacifier into Henry's life when he was infant. The pure Montessori books recommend against it, but the only way to soothe Henry to sleep was walking (since I decided early on not to use breastfeeding to soothe, due to nipple soreness) and walking wasn't a good option for me because of my prolonged lochia. 

When he was four weeks-old, we took him to an outdoor silent film event at the park downtown, and a family near us had a son just four weeks older than Henry. While Matt wore Henry in the Moby and took laps around the park to get him to fall asleep, they gave their son a pacifier and he fell right to sleep. I was sold. We started using the pacifier at that point (since the likelihood of nipple confusion had already passed). 

When we started a "Mommy and Me" Montessori class, the teacher explained that some babies need extra sucking, and so she thinks pacifiers can be necessary and useful. Her guidance, however, was to try and limit their usage to when they're really necessary (i.e., not using them to placate a child who is bored, hungry, etc.).

When I saw two and three year-olds at Target with pacifiers, I panicked a little that we would get to that point with Henry. I worried that it would start to delay his speech, affect his mouth structure, and become an addiction. I decided that we would try to eliminate the pacifier using the techniques described in the No Cry Sleep Solution around six months. 

Ha! Six months came and went and Henry still very much needed his pacifier. We wanted to meet Henry's needs, but we did so with a very watchful eye. As much as possible, we limited its usage to naps and bedtime, and we stopped bringing it with us when we left the house. We tried to give him books or toys to keep him occupied in the car, rather than defaulting to the pacifier. 

This approach--Give the Child What S/he Needs but Look for Opportunities to Help the Child Grow into Independence--has been a common theme in our parenting. It's definitely the approach we took with sleeping and weaning. 

The hardest thing about this approach is remembering that children can change so much from day to day. It's hard to notice that they're ready for the next stage. I didn't realize that Henry was ready to stop using a pacifier. His daycare happened to mention that he had been falling asleep without using a pacifier. We stopped using it at home, and voila! Henry no longer uses a pacifier.

I'm thankful the transition was natural and happened at a young age.

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Julie R. said...

That's a great photo! We actually tried a pacifier when I too didn't feel like it was in our best interest to be me to be a human one, but she never took. I always thoughtit was because she could sense my hesitation. Instead she found her thumb, which of course I was weary of to some extent. But looking back at pictures from the very first days, you can see her trying to get at her thumb from the start. I hope this natural self soothing will find it's own natural exit at some point as well.

Jessica said...

I was a toddler with a pacifier and when people tried to make me get rid of it, I promised I would stop using it when I turned 4. I distinctly remember waking up the morning of my fourth birthday, remembering the deal, and taking it out of my mouth, never to use it again! Wish I still had that amount of self-control!

zoe said...

A friend told me she finds pacifiers indispensible for young toddlers. When they are having a tantrum there isn't much you can do to help them except hold them (so they can't hurt themselves) and maybe offer a pacifier to help soothe. I am not there yet, but my baby doesn't have any interest in. the pacifier anyway. What does Montessorri say about tantrums?

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