For the purposes of this post I'm going to refer to dummies, also known to some of you as soothers or pacifiers. A conversation with my helper this week got me thinking about our dependence on a very small but necessary piece of rubber, and whether or not it's time to wean ourselves off it. J only uses a dummy to go to sleep. I've been very careful about not giving it to him to suck away when he's not tired. In the early days we started using one because he liked to fall asleep during or immediately after a feed and I needed my nipples back. We use a natural rubber dummy that's all one piece, so there's nowhere for germs to hang out. It's also eco-friendly, orthodontic and virtually indestructible. It's quite odd looking and brown, and we get a lot of comments about it. I once left J with friends for a few hours and they had a good laugh about it. They had heard that babies prefer dummies that most resemble their mother's nipples and they imagined that I must have breasts like a big African Mama (could not be further from the truth in case you were wondering!).
We've tried other dummies but J refuses to use any other kind. This is a problem at times because the ones we use are not available everywhere. We have to buy them from our GP's office in Discovery Bay. We had a shortage a couple of months ago and we only had two in the house. One night I was on my own with J and he happened to lose both of them somewhere in his room. I was frantically rummaging through cupboards at 3am while he cried his heart out, trying desperately to find something I could stick in his mouth. In the end my finger was the only thing that soothed him and the next morning I found both dummies tucked up between the mattress and the mosquito net. I also made a trip to DB that day and stocked up. I now keep at least 2 spare in the bedroom.
I had a friend complain one day that her boys would lose them in the night and she'd have to get up to put them back in. I was glad that J wasn't that dependent on his and smiled smugly. Then we went to Australia and he woke every hour and cried until I got up and put the dummy back in. Serves me right, I hear you say. He's now very good at finding it in his cot and putting it back in himself, but I'm beginning to worry that he can't sleep without it.
I have noticed that not many of the local children use them, and I have a few friends who are very anti-dummy. We were advised not to use one until we had breastfeeding sorted out, to avoid "nipple confusion". Within a few days of being born J was on a combination of breast and bottle so I didn't think one more nipple would make any difference, and we didn't have a problem. I've not given it much thought since then, until now. Last week my helper was telling me her niece, who is about 3 weeks older than J, never needed one to sleep. She started talking about how J really likes his, and implied that maybe it was time to let it go. I got quite defensive and made the point that he only has it to sleep so it's not a problem. That was the end of the conversation but I haven't stopped thinking about it. I don't think my son is addicted to his dummy, I think I am. It's so easy to pop it in his mouth when he's a bit tired and cranky, and to be honest I have no idea how I'd go about getting him to sleep without one.
A few months ago while we were checking into a hotel, a family walked in with 3 children aged about 2, 4 and 6, and all 3 of them had dummies in their mouths. I was pretty shocked but I can see how easily it could happen. I'd like to to wean J off his before it becomes too hard but I haven't worked out how. My grandmother likes to tell the now infamous story of how I came to lose my dummy. She hates the things and was looking after me one day when I was about 2 years old. My dummy happened to fall out of my mouth and into the toilet. She very quickly flushed it away and told me the baby fish had it now. I'm told I was pretty satisfied with this response and didn't ask for a dummy again. Perhaps I need to wait until J is old enough to buy a story like that and then try. Until then, I'm going to enjoy the peaceful sleep it brings.