Sunday, May 22, 2011

That blasted pacifier

When Hyrum was a tinsy baby, he had a ridiculously strong sucking reflex (shouldn't be surprising considering his mother's thumb-sucking addiction until age 8!) Even the nurses in the hospital commented on how he was "always on me" and asked if I wanted to take any bottles home. I replied that I was fine but I did accept their offer to give him a pacifier. Kid loved it. He never had a problem nursing so the whole "nipple confusion" thing kind of seems like a hoax (maybe there really are babies out there who have problems but I believe they're likely few and far between).

In just about every parenting book and website I read, they mentioned that one of the most important things for helping your baby learn how to put himself to sleep is to put him in the crib awake. So, off I go, swaddling, putting the binky in and BAM! Asleep! Little to no fussing at all. I'm a great mommy, pat on the back, wahoo!

But, one problem...sucking to sleep. Well my friends, my baby has learned to rely on sucking as comfort. Nursing or a pacifier is almost a must for helping him to go down. That would be fine except the fact that he therefore doesn't know how to put himself to sleep a few hours later when he wakes up and the pacifier has fallen out.

And thus we see the major obstacles--taking away the pacifier and nursing to sleep. The past few days my strategy has been to help Hyrum go down for naps without a pacifier during the day, even if it means rocking or swinging to sleep. My main goal is to break the sucking-to-sleep association. I try as hard as I can at night but figure that until naps are under control, night time is going to be hard. Tonight looked something like this: nurse, drowsy, burp, rock, fuss, rock, fuss, rock, fuss, nurse, rock, fuss, rock, put in crib, fuss, pick up and rock, put down again, fuss...cave and give pacifier, sleep.

Again, the plan is to be pretty rigorous about not sucking to sleep for naps because I can do other things such as go for a walk in the Moby wrap or go for a stroller ride. But nighttime is different, mostly because he's so tired by then. I still try really hard not to give in but I usually give up after 10-15 minutes of fighting it.

Have any of you had to take away the pacifier? How did you do it?


  1. Amy, this is just my opinion but, he is too young to take it away. We went through the same thing at night with the waking and not having the bink. I know it sucks but we got up a few times a night to give it back. After a few months he will be able to put it in by himself and you won't have to worry about it. It is too hard on all of you to try to take it away at this age. Again, just my opinion! :)

  2. I actually really appreciate it Mika! I think you might be right. I mean, I do want him to have other ways of going to sleep without it and during the day there doesn't seem to be nearly as much of a problem. But, nighttime is hard for everyone.

    Now that I think more about your suggestion, I realize that he actually seems to sleep longer the first round of the night (even after it falls out) if I give it to him but he's restless without it. I guess maybe I'll just keep working on helping him find other ways to go to sleep during the day and giving it to him at night. I like to think that if he learns how to sleep without it during the day then when the time comes, he'll be ready to ditch it at night.

  3. When Sal was something like 7 or 8 or 9 months old she hit a point where she didn't seem to care about the pacifier. We had previously only given it to her to sleep anyway so she didn't need it during the day at all except naptime. I should have just stopped giving it to her at naptime when she didn't care, but I was in my exhaustifying first trimester with Thaddeus, so I wasn't willing to risk losing naptime. I kept plugging her in which meant we had to break her of it later. I waited till she was 18 or 19 moths old (which is still fairly young by some people's standard) and I just took it away at naptime. It was rough for a while, but at that age I was ok with letting her cry it out. She was down to one nap a day and I was familiar enough with her schedule and routine (and it didn't change every few weeks!) that I knew she was just pining for her binky and she was going to have to learn to live without it. I didn't take it away at night until she was doing ok without it during the day because by that time T. was a wee babe and I wasn't willing to sacrifice precious sleep to her screaming over an easy fix.

    The moral of the story is: he may reach a time when he's just over it. If not, I would wait till he's older, but that's just me.

  4. I also think you would be fine to wait until he's a little older, although I have little experience b/c my baby loved the paci for 2 weeks and then she was done with it. She really didn't self soothe until 5-6 months anyway, when she found her thumb. But she rarely sucks her thumb nowadays, so I'm off the hook to wean her off that too. The real reason I'm commenting is because my baby suffered from nipple confusion, so count her as one of the few and far between ;)

  5. Tabitha, that's actually really good to know! I seriously started to think that maybe lactation consultants were just being a little over-board but knowing that there really are babies who have a problem with it is very good information. Completely out of curiosity, was it a pacifier or bottle nipple? My thought was that maybe a bottle nipple would be a little easier as far as nipple preference is concerned because there is liquid on the other end, but again, I'm just assuming.

  6. Jacob did the same thing when he was Hyrum's age. I went through a stage where I woke up 6 or 7 times a night, just to put in the pacifier. It got better around 6 or 7 months when he could put it back in on his own. We put 4 or 5 pacifiers in his crib so that no matter how he rolled one was readily available. That being said, I wish I would have done it differently. I wish I had let him cry it out(which I know that you are vehemetly against).

    My word of caution is that swinging, rocking, patting and nursing can all become sleeping crutches just the way the pacifer is now. If he becomes dependent upon any of them to fall asleep, every time he goes through periods of awakeness in the night (as we all do), he will cry for you to swing, rock, nurse etc to get him back to sleep. You may just be trading sucking for swinging without the bonus of more sleep.

    Wishing you the best. Hope you sleep soon!