When our daughter was born, the midwives at the hospital warned us not to give her a pacifier before she hit the one-month mark. Not knowing much about babies, I took the warning seriously. We later consulted with friends and relatives regarding the pacifier question — some were free-wheeling, saying: don’t wait a month — give her a pacifier whenever she cries! Others ominously warned: never give her a pacifier or you’ll have problems for years.
We took the middle road. We offered our daughter her first pacifier at around 3 months. We were secretly pleased when she didn’t show any interest in it. She would take it into her little fingers, turn it around in her hands a couple of times, then chuck it across the room. I was relieved and bragged to anyone who would listen how our baby was so smart — how she rejected the pacifier, because once she realized there was no milk coming out of it, she understood it was a useless piece of plastic.
I was also pleased, because — as a chronic pacifier user/thumbsucker myself until the age of 6 — I know the lengths to which my parents went to make me give up my addiction. I also remember the 7+ years of orthodontic treatment it took to correct my bite.
That changed this summer when we went on our first road trip. K was very agitated much of the time and difficult to calm down. But when I gave her the pacifier (which I always carried with me, just in case), she’d fall asleep easily. I was amazed at its efficacy (not so useless after all!), and my husband finally understood why we in the U.S. call a pacifier a “pacifier.”
But the pacifier stayed in the car. Outside of the car, K still showed little interest.
This past Christmas, we took another long road trip to visit the grandparents, and we took the pacifier with us — knowing we could count on it to get us through the rough moments. It worked like a charm on the car ride. But once we got inside the house, something strange happened — K started to cry. She wanted her pacifier back!
So we gave it to her — just to help her fall asleep that first night, we told ourselves. The second night, we caved again. Then again during her morning and afternoon naps. Suddenly, she was asking for it all of the time. What had happened? How did our super smart, anti-pacifier baby suddenly turn into a pacifier addict… just at that point in time where, in her Carnet de Sante (1 year), you’re advised to start “weaning off” the pacifier?
We still didn’t panic, figuring it was just a vacation thing. Once we got home, we told ourselves, things would go back to normal. But they didn’t. Where before we had a baby who would go to sleep quietly as soon as you put her down in bed, now we have a baby who screams for hours until she gets her pacifier.
I remember with shame now how I used to look disapprovingly in the streets at the parents of all those two- and three-year-olds I would see furiously sucking away at their pacifiers. Now, it seems, fate has decided I’m to join their ranks.
We’ve already tried the tough love approach — letting K “cry it out” for up to an hour at a time, but nothing has worked so far. My husband keeps reminding me it was our mistake for needlessly turning her on to the horrid thing. That makes the guilt even worse.
It’s hard to believe a 10-day vacation indulgence could change our little girl so much. Is there any good way to help K give up her pacifier? Or will she follow in mommy’s footsteps?
I’m thinking we should start saving for braces now… just in case.