When you talk about soothers with new moms, the subject can get very heated. Some believe that sucking is the best way to soothe a baby, and therefore a soother is the only thing that makes sense. Others believe it causes all sorts of problems, from dependence, insecurity to things like bad teeth.
When I was pregnant with Tristan, I swore up and down that he’d never have a soother. I wasn’t going to have one of those kids who had a soother in his mouth all the time. Then, just before he was born, my mom bought me a couple, “just in case”. I was actually pretty angry, as I’d made my anti-soother stance clear. However, I put them in a drawer, determined never to use them.
When Tristan was two weeks old, the colic began. My angel was replaced by a non-stop screaming demon. We tried everything to get him to stop crying. I read books, blogs, watched helpful DVDs. All the experts said that sucking helped to soothe babies. And he was too little to suck his thumb.
I think he was about 4 weeks old the first time I put a soother in his mouth, and I actually cried a little. I felt like I had failed him already. But it worked. When he was upset, sleepy, angry, whatever – just pop that baby in his mouth and he’d suck on it happily.
He was just over a year old when we made the soother-only-at-bedtime rule, and that worked pretty well. Occasionally if he was very upset he’d get it during the day, but mostly it stayed in the crib.
The main trouble was that sometimes he’d lose it in the night. We had to put up bumpers in his crib to keep the soother from falling on the floor. Even that wasn’t good enough – invariably it would fall down the edge of the mattress. Soon we had two soothers in the crib, then three. Anything to keep from having to get up in the night and hunt them down.
Then came the switch to the big boy bed. That brought a whole new level of problems, because now the soother could fall down between the headboard and the mattress, and the only way to retrieve it was to move the whole bed. We needed a bevy of emergency backup soothers on the bookshelf, so if he lost one in the night we could grab a spare, pop it in his mouth, and go back to bed.
That worked okay until the last few months. Tristan has become not so much of a soother-sucker as a soother-chewer. When it’s in his mouth, he’s holding onto it and chewing on the rubber piece. Which turns the sanity-saving pacifier into a sanity-degrading choking hazard. We’ve had to buy 4 new soothers in the last 3 months; he chews holes in them faster than I can keep track of them.
A few days ago I had to throw out two of the remaining three soothers, leaving only one. Which means when he loses it in the night, I have to turn on the light and hunt that sucker down. This on top of getting up 3-4 times a night with a sick Cora. So I decided enough is enough. Enter the soother fairy.
This magical creature is related to the tooth fairy, but instead of taking teeth she takes soothers. In exchange, she leaves a toy. I got the idea from a friend, and it worked well for her little guy. So Tristan and I have been talking about the soother fairy for a while, and finally he decided he was old enough to leave his soother out for her.
After talking about it, telling stories about it, and making a plan, it was decided we’d write her a note today, and ask for a puzzle in exchange. So it should have come as no surprise that today Tristan came down with a head cold. Surely not the best time to attempt soother removal. However, he was keen to get the new puzzle. (“Maybe the yoother fairy will bring a BIG puzzle!”) We wrote the note, but by the time I put him to bed he was pretty miserable. I lay down with him, but he just tossed and turned and kept bringing his hand to his mouth, as if to tug on the missing soother. After a full hour of this he started to whimper, murmuring that he wasn’t a big boy yet. Finally he broke down and asked for it, and I gave in. I guess we’ll try for the puzzle another day, when he’s feeling better. In the mean time, I guess I just have to be resigned to a few soother-retrieval trips every night. Sigh…
To be continued, hopefully soon.