Dummies and decisions

I know a little girl who is currently waiting for the dummy fairy to take her dummies away.  You’ll be fine sweetheart, I know Mummy and Daddy will help you sleep. 

My sister lives in Spain, and there is a festival every year just before Christmas with street parades and different characters, and the little kids give their dummies to the dragons to take away. 

I know I had a dummy and apparently took it to kindy a few times in my bag, just in case.  I don’t remember giving it up. 

My girls don’t have dummies, I did try early on with both of them but when they wouldn’t take it I was quite relieved because I didn’t really want to use them.  And given the major meltdowns I’ve had (yes me, not them) over all the comfort sucking that sounds a bit weird – I mean if it’s a fairly big issue for me, and I admit it is, why not just use a dummy?

This isn’t really a post about dummies at all, it’s a ramble about the parenting decisions we make. 

My own dummy decisions are easy to trace, maybe not to understand, but I can see how I got here.  First off dummies were not even considered at the beginning because they can interfere with breastfeeding, and anyone who’s read my posts can probably work out I’m not about to let that happen 🙂

After a few weeks with feeding well established there was lots of screaming and comfort sucking and we tried dummies with both of them.  Both of them refused and we went on to other things, luckily because in both cases there were reasons for the screaming.  I don’t know how a dummy would have affected things at that point – would it have held up the eventual solutions?  Would it have solved the problem on its own?  Who knows? I was quite glad, because I really didn’t want to get into dummies – the idea of having to keep track of them, keep them clean, replace them and then eventually wean off them just didn’t appeal.

Once the initial early problems were solved dummies were forgotten, until a few months later and they’re still constantly sucking.  The little one went through a couple of months when she wouldn’t sleep, at all, any time, without a nipple.  I put a lot more effort into dummies then, but the little rubber teat just wasn’t acceptable and frankly neither was the crying.  So I caved, read lots of books and had a lot of early nights.  It wasn’t fun, but we seem to have got through it.

Sleep is gradually improving, with the emphasis on gradual, but now I haven’t slept well in over 18 months and my tolerance is wearing thin.  I do think occasionally of dummies now, but it seems like such an effort to go through when, if she takes after her sister, it will all be over in a few more months.  (She’d better take after her sister!)

So each time, my dummy decisions have been based on a sort of ‘better the devil you know.’ I started with a vaguely negative feeling towards dummies, I don’t like the look of them, they can be bad when you are trying to establish breastfeeding, they are linked to increased ear infections, you have to get rid of them at the end.  Of course they have good points, otherwise they wouldn’t be so popular, but I’ve never used them so I don’t know what they are.  In the end, I felt that if you have to get up to replace them anyway, might as well just keep feeding.

I wonder how many of our parenting decisions are based on this sort of inertia?  If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.  Look before you leap.  (The problem with using proverbs as a decision making tool is there’s always one for the other side – He who hesitates is lost and a stitch in time saves nine.)  I know for myself the short term pain of getting them to accept the dummy just didn’t add up against the possible long term gains and problems.  Was it fear of making things worse?  Maybe I made the right decisions, we certainly got through with my eldest and ended up with a healthy, happy little girl who likes us (thanks, cAt) and sleeps well. 

Maybe, just maybe, there are lots of paths that will get us to the same ending, and maybe it isn’t of earth shattering importance which particular one we take.

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5 responses to this post.

  1. Yes, I know that I definitely make parenting decisions based on inertia. What we’re doing now is working for us, so let’s not change anything. Of course the flip side to that is that no matter what you do, eventually it’s not going to work for you – I don’t know any fifteen year olds who are still using a dummy, for example. But I’ve always been fairly reactive in that respect – when things don’t work any more, we do something different, but not until then.

    Reply

  2. Posted by Capricious on July 28, 2009 at 9:51 am

    I never thought I would use a dummy (well, not me, my son) but when he was a few months old I had a stay in hospital and found that he would suck on a bottle but let the milk dribble over his face- thats how used to comfort sucking he was! Thankfully we had been given a dummy at our baby shower so out it came. 6 months on, he still has it when he is going to sleep. It just works for him. It gives him comfort, so who am I to stand in the way of that. And when it stops working, we will stop offering it.

    I think the best parenting decisions are the ones that are made in response to the child’s needs at the time, not neccessarily standing your ground on a choice you made pre-children.

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  3. Posted by Michelle on July 29, 2009 at 7:54 am

    We didn’t use a dummy because DD rejected it. I did try at around 3 weeks old, after a friend who had a similar aged baby put one in her DD’s mouth and she was asleep in 2 mins. I thought THAT’S IT and stuck one in her mouth. She spat it. I stuck it in again. She spat it. And so forth until I gave up. I was kind of glad because like you, I’m not a big fan of them, but at that stage I would have done anything for a baby who would go to sleep!

    I’m not sure what I’ll do next time around – probably try them again. My sister managed her son’s dummy quite well (I thought) – made it only for car and sleep, then just sleep (by which stage he would drop the dummy into the cot when she got him up) and at about 18 months he gave it up without too much fuss. I’m sure it wouldn’t work that way with all children though!

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  4. I think what I’m trying to explore is how we decide when there is a problem that’s worth changing what we are doing, because it’s usually easier to just keep doing the same thing. It sounds like just about all of us try dummies at some point, sometimes the baby takes them, sometimes they don’t. So then we all need to decide whether it’s worth working on it to get them to take it. And it’s complicated because you can never see the future or rewind the tape and try again – at the points I was contemplating dummies, I couldn’t see how truly bad sleep would get or how long it would last. And I’ll never know if dummies would have helped or if they would have just created their own set of problems.

    And of course dummies are just an example, I could have used a sleep settling technique, or routine, or any other decisions we make about our babies.

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  5. Posted by mummytiff on July 30, 2009 at 12:25 am

    I think you pose a really interesting question Deb, and I think that the fact that we can’t hit rewind means that we need to do what we think is best at the time for our CHILD. Sometimes what is best for our child is what is best for us and sometimes not. For instance, by all accounts if we had of used CC we would have been getting much more sleep many many months ago but I wasn’t looking for a solution that would buy me more sleep but rather a solution that would be best for my child. I have lost track of the number of people who have told me that by “allowing” my child to get up so many times during the nigiht I am harming him because he needs his sleep. Bulldust. Well not bulldust to him needing his sleep but BULLDUST to me harming him. He gets his sleep – provided he is on my breast. Plus, I believe that even if he weren’t getting as much sleep as he “should” be reduced sleep is far less damaging than being left to scream. That said, that is what my personal research paired with what I am comfortable doing as a parent and human being has led me to conclude……..others (most of my friends) have obviously read different books, have different parenting philosophies and desire different outcomes.

    I think it’s also a little naive to suggest that “if you did what I did your child would do what my child does”. I have a friend who has a small baby and said small baby Is on a Tizzie Hall schedule and sleeps famously. It has been suggested that if my children had of been raised on said schedule they would not be “such terrible sleepers”. I am not sure that would be true. Obviously I can’t be 100% sure because I have never bothered to get my child out of bed at 7am because an author tells me too, regardless of when they were last resettled (even if that was 6:30am)…..perhaps that would be made them the champion sleepers that I dream of! I think like Michelle said, the way each child reacts is different dependant on the child and their family.

    The dummy fairy came to our house on Sunday night and Mummy and Daddy are having to provide a lot of support at sleep time but not only at sleep time – it has had emotional ramificiations throughout the day 😦 The dummy was much like many of our parenting decisions – one that felt right at the time. I never ever made blanket statements when pregnant. I had a feeling I wouldn’t be able to leave my child to scream but I refused to say “I will never…….” because I didin’t know what curcumstances would bring. So when a dummy habit was formed we went with it and the attachment at our house has been very strong so it stands to reason that the farewelling of the dummy will be an emotional time.

    Reply

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