When I was pregnant, I was adamant that my child would not have a dummy. Pacifier, dodie, dumdum, dummy… I really disliked them! I thought that they were used as a lazy way of keeping babies quiet. I thought they looked-and I am cringing writing this, sorry- common. “I’ll find other ways to pacify her” I, in retrospect rather smugly thought. By the end of week 3, she was having a dummy to send her to sleep at night. We’d tried a free one we got in a baby pack during the early hours of a morning after little sleep in desperation when we’d run out of ideas.
She seemed to get comfort from it and at that point I put my dummy snobbery aside for the sake of peace. And so it became a night time thing. I didn’t bring it out during the day and I didn’t tell anyone we were using it. It was our secret dummy and I enforced strict rules (with my other half) of when it could be used. Namely, to get her to sleep. Never when she was awake and settled. Never during the day. And my most important rule- absolutely never in public.
I came downstairs during the day when she was about 2 months old and she was in her dad’s arms whilst he watched whatever rubbish on the telly. And she had a dummy in. When I asked him about this his response was “ah, but it’s the weekend and we’re relaxing!” as though it was the infant version of cracking open a beer and watching the football.
I was so unimpressed.
I remember thinking “oh my god do I even know him at all? Are we even matched to being parents together?!” because I’m dramatic at the best of times never mind when super post-baby hormonal. And so it carried on that I would stick to my rules and he wouldn’t. I mean, they were mine after all, not his!
After a few weeks, I needed to actually buy some dummies so that we weren’t relying on our single one. I felt so embarrassed going into the shop to buy them. What will people think? The new mum fear of being judged on my parenting was very real in those moments. I presumed that most people would have my dummy prejudices. I didn’t get that no one really cared that much away from the internet!
Once home and officially (now that we had bought some) dummy users, I made myself feel better by reading
positives of dummy use-there was a weak link to suggest the benefits of dummy use before sleep as a preventative to SIDS. That had to be good! It satisfies the suck reflex and helps babies to soothe themselves. Also a good thing! I tried to ignore all the bad things about dummies. Like teeth problems and language problems. And told myself it was okay to use a dummy for now. That I hadn’t failed at being the good mum that I had planned on being whilst pregnant. That being a ‘good mum’ had fuck all to do with dummies. This is true. The handled plastic dummy may be ugly but she kind of looked like a cute little piglet really. I could accept the dummy.
At nearly 7 months, my daughter loves her ‘dodies’ and I am happy for her to have them at this point in time. She uses them for comfort alongside muslins generally when she is feeling sleepy or in an unfamiliar environment.
I’m glad that she can find comfort in these situations.
I worried that a dummy would inhibit her communication. I make sure that she isn’t attached to it constantly though, for example when we are playing and I’m encouraging her to ‘chat’. She makes all the sounds that I would expect a baby her age to make.
So far, not inhibited!
However one is almost always available to her if she wants it thanks to*hangs head in shame* the dummy clips I said I was definitely never ever going to buy because that was where my line was at. And she knows to find the dummy at the end of the clip. I take it out of her mouth in the pram whilst she is awake so that we can have a ‘natter’ walking along and then she will pop it back in if she fancies.
When pregnant, I didn’t ever think I would have a child that used a dummy but now that she is here and has one, I just cannot find myself getting worked up about it. I don’t want her to have a dummy for too long but haven’t yet started planning the Great Dummy Wean. Current advice from the NHS says to avoid using dummies after 12 months, so I still have a little while to wean her off before I feel like I’m doing any real harm. It’ll be hard but in some ways I think that weaning off a dummy will be a lot easier than if she were a thumb sucker weaning from a thumb! I’ll remember I said that when the time comes and no doubt will cringe at myself again.
Do you use dummies or have you managed to steer clear of the teats of doom? Have you weaned your babies away from dummies quickly or are they hard to let go?