I’m not against the use of pacifier.
Though it is commonly blamed for early dental and speech problems, some even believe baby’s mouth will change shape, I thought prudent use will help baby to settle and spare our ears from the crying.
Or so I thought.
Prudent use, as defined by some books, is allowing baby to suck only before sleeping or when eliminating a night feed. Tracy Hogg suggested if baby is already tired and only needs that extra push to dreamland, she will suck energetically on the pacifier for a few seconds and release.
Since Baby O sleeps well without any aid at night and only struggles during his daytime naps, I offered the pacifier only in the day.
It worked, at first.
What I conveniently forgot was, Baby O doesn’t sleep more than 20 mins in the day. To help him sleep again, the pacifier was engaged almost EVERY hour. By the end of a week, he was addicted.
He cries for the pacifier before sleep and lets me know by sticking out his tongue and doing the sucking motion. It even affected his usual peaceful bedtime. What used to be quiet, happy evenings turned into screaming fits and us taking turns to put the falling pacifier back into his mouth.
I was exhausted. It came to a point where I was dreading to go to sleep, cos baby will wake up twice during the night. I was also reluctant to wake up, cos the day will be spent in a groundhog cycle of pumping milk, feeding baby for 15 mins, changing diapers and what-not for 30 mins, and the next 2 hours coaxing a crying baby to sleep.
Showers were 2 mins jiffies. Lunch was interrupted and left to cool under the fan for 2 hours or more. Everything was done in fear of the next time-slicing cry.
And then Baby O turned 2 months.
I read that sleeping is somewhat scary to babies cos it feels like falling. In the first three months, before baby develops her own self-soothing techniques, she will need some sort of aid to dreamland. Be it rocking/swaddling/singing/patting/pacifier/yaolan etc. Come 3 months, they are capable of falling asleep on their own and sleeping props should be diminished or discontinued.
2 weeks down, I realised he had started to find his fingers- his first sign of self-soothing ability.
Then one night, he decided to sleep for 6 hours straight. I was refreshed for the first time in a very long time.
I took the cue. The next day, I stopped using the pacifier.
How I weaned Baby O off the pacifier:
Babies around his age gets tired after being awake for 1+ hour. I also looked out for his sleepy signs- yawning and clawing face. The moment I saw these, I toned down whatever activity we were doing and set him in bed.
2. Distract, distract, distract
When he cried, I monitored for a while. Once his cry escalated in decibel and climbing towards awakening rather than sleeping, I picked him up and distracted him. He loves the black and white wall mural in the living room, so I allowed him to gush and smiled at the wall whilst rocking and swaying him in my arms.
3. Talk like it’s not a big deal
Babies pick up on our tone. And I dunno about you, but my baby’s screaming DOES get to me. So before he turned up the volume, I asked him in the calmest voice I can manage: “Yes, what’s wrong? Can’t sleep? Just close your eyes and (“shut up you stupid boy” under muttered breath) and sleep, you’ll feel more refreshed!”
What all these are supposed to do: Get him to bed when he is tired, assure him you are there when he needs you, and falling asleep is not a big deal and nothing to be afraid of.
The first nap was the most challenging. I had to pick him up several times, my arms were half-buckling under his weight and his crying thinning my patience. But by the 3rd nap, either out of exhaustion or the “training”, he slept for 40 mins, the very first time in his life.
On the second day, he took a leap of faith. 20 mins, thumb-suck for a few minutes, and back to sleep for another 40 mins.
No patting/rocking/singing etc. Nothing.
By the third day, he stopped sticking out his tongue for the pacifier. For his bedtime, we swaddled him again. Our peaceful evenings resumed.
Since then, though I have to clean his hands more often, the advantages outweighed this inconvenience.
He sleeps longer, both in the day and night. He goes to sleep faster, in his own cot. There’s limited crying, and I don’t have to rock a 7 kilo baby to sleep. I’ve also stopped the bedtime swaddling after his sleeping habits improved. Of course, there are still times when I missed his cues or we were out and his naps were messed up and out comes the rocking/shushing/swaddling. But generally, I was finally able to take a proper shower, eat my lunch in peace and most importantly, enjoy Baby O’s company whilst he babbles on about his day: