I recently came across an article on the dangers or ultrasounds which made me wonder why not one of the 4 different doctors i saw during my pregnancy mentioned there were any risks, it also made me realize something i know to be true… its my responsibility to keep myself informed because no one else is going to do it for me! It was also a sad reminder of the fact that not many people have got your back in this world, most of us are brought up with a strong belief in doctors and i suppose i feel like a kid whose just realized Santa Clause is one big lie, very let down and betrayed (not that we were brought up to believe in Santa Clause but thats a different story for a different day).
Please see link below if you’re interested in learning more on the dangers of Ultrasounds.
Whilst reading a good but simple book on parenting the other night i came across an article about how to get the transition from pacifier/dummy to no pacifier/dummy. I (which of course means my husband and I 😉 ) decided not to go the dummy route, firstly i didnt want anything jeopardizing breastfeeding and i’d read about the risks of nipple confusion and then by the time that was over, at about 6 weeks, there didnt seem to be much point of it (albeit for a few times when there wasnt energy enough to do what it would take to stop the incessant tears of a baby who seemed distressed by their entire existence) and when we did try she never took to it, but it didnt stop every passing person trying to shove the dummy in her mouth determined that they would be the one who succeeded in getting Lily to take her dummy; almost as if sucking a dummy is second nature and surely the problem is the way in which it is being offered.
The author of the book was describing a scene that was presented to her by an obviously distressed mother whose obviously distressed son of 2 or 3 years old was throwing tantrums over having his dummy taken away from him and so the author goes on to say ‘to help you avoid a meltdown like this parent experienced here are some prevention tips.. In parenting you can evade many problems by not starting them’ so me being me I assumed she was going to advise not to start them on a pacifier that way you won’t have to go to the hassle of trying to get them off it but no, apparently that isn’t an option, the solution was to have a routine when your baby can have their pacifier (she is pro-attachment etc and does explain it better).
When i read that passage of the book the thing that i found most disturbing was not the fact that the child was given a dummy in the first place but that now, after he’s been trained to find comfort in this ‘pacifier’ since his earliest days, it is being ripped away from him and he doesn’t understand it and no amount of reasoning with a 2 or 3 year old is going to make them understand why something so familiar to them, that has been as much a part of his life as his family, is being taken away from them for no apparent reason.
The silent question that had been simmering under the surface was now at a full boil and in my bid to find some sort of understanding into this dummy-mentality i took to posting the question on a trusted facebook page that has always been there for me and been the source of some of my greatest inspiration in this educational journey. I posted the above story along with the question why do mama’s choose to give their baby a dummy and how many decided against it. Throughout my short parenting journey i have had many shocked reactions when I’ve had to answer the question ‘where is her dummy?’ that seems to be the first question to pop in peoples minds when Lily decides to make her voice heard in company of some family and friends. You would almost think not giving a baby a dummy is completely unheard of so i was pleasantly surprised to see quite a few mama’s respond saying they, too, went the no-dummy route after hearing of the negative side effects but then there were the mama’s who say they swear by pacifiers and couldn’t have done it without one… which brought to mind the question; how on earth did mama’s survive without this heralded ‘pacifier’ and what has happened since to convince the majority of mama’s that they couldn’t parent without one?
All of the moms who responded that they chose to give a dummy insisted that they could see the ‘signs’ that baby ‘needed’ a dummy. These signs included but were not limited to : newborn baby’s constant need to suck, sucking on fingers (would have sucked his/her thumb otherwise), crying too much etc etc which at first glance all seemed to be pretty reasonable but after mulling over all the reasons i realized that i had experienced every one of those ‘signs’ with Lily but why had i managed without a dummy considering none of these other mama’s had thought it would be possible. Sheer determination?
I began to wonder whether dummy’s were the necessity these mama’s were making them out to be, or if they were simply something we have been conditioned to believe we need over the years? When i was pregnant and doing my baby shopping i bought every cute dummy i saw, how did i know whether my baby would ‘need’ one or not? Why was i automatically drawn to buying dummy’s? All these questions started piling up in my head desperate to find answers. It felt to me like we are conditioned to pre-plan baby to have a dummy before we even know whether they will ‘need’ one.
When Lily was born, apart from an episode in the beginning (another story for another day) i thought we had been blessed with the ‘goodest’ baby in the world, so calm and peaceful and just happily slept and slept, the day after i gave birth i got so bored waiting for visiting hours and Lily was just sleeping that i got up and cleaned my end of the room, had a bath and put my makeup on, caught up on some reading, munched on tons of chocolate (i was blissfully ignorant of the dangers of chocolate) not at all suspecting what was in store for me on night 3, never mind the months to follow! She did have what looked like a beauty spot on her forefinger though which the doctor said had been from her sucking her finger while in-utero and she did constantly want to suck and from day 3 onwards she cried for what seemed like most of every day. Why was i able to deal with this ‘normal’ baby without the help of a dummy when so many other mama’s, who had gone through 2 or more children, hadn’t? If Lily needed to suck, i fed her. If she tried to suck her fingers, i moved her hand away from her mouth. If she cried myself or someone else close to her comforted her. I couldn’t see where a dummy’s place in all of this was. I wonder if perhaps all babies are born with these ‘signs’ and the only difference is how we interpret them. I interpreted the signs as a need to be comforted or entertained, whereas another mama might interpret them as the sign baby needs a dummy.
For sure there is a place in this world for dummies… a very limited place and that does not include full-term healthy babies. Some argue that babies who are on formula need a dummy for the comfort they miss out on, and yes, if you are a parent who chooses to prop-a-bottle-up and lay baby on side to “self-serve” 🙂 then by all means your baby does probably need that extra comfort but if you are interested in going the no-dummy route but have chosen to go the formula route then there are ways to make feeding time a time for connecting and comforting. The one case where i currently agree to the use of pacifiers is for pre-term babies who have to be fed by tubes and so they use a pacifier to keep up their sucking reflex so that they can breastfeed when they are able. Is the dummy-route just something we have been doing for so long we dont even question it? I also question whether the fact that it is so convenient for parents is what makes it so popular? As mentioned, when Lily was having an especially bad episode and my exhausted mind was telling me she NEEDED a dummy simply because i didn’t have the energy to do what it would take to calm her (walking around with her, rocking her etc), on later reflection i realized how completely selfish that was. I was not acting in the best interests of my baby and i was even annoyed with myself for expecting my baby to find comfort in a piece of silicone and in effect accept second-best. How do we make our children strive for the best always when from the beginning of their precious lives we’ve encouraged them to accept second-best?
Some of the negative side effects of pacifiers, babies are more prone to ear-infections, babies tend to swallow air while sucking on a dummy, can interfere with feeding, can interfere with speech.
Having read that, i wonder if perhaps pacifiers are something that need to go out the door along with CIO (Cry-It-Out), Sleep and Baby Training, Anti-Co-Sleeping and all the other practices we now know have negative side effects? I cant imagine giving my baby something knowing i am potentially causing her problems.
Rather than being advised to give baby a dummy, maybe what we truly need is to get advise on how to deal with baby when they are showing these ‘signs’ and have a support group to help us along the way, perhaps something along the lines of the breastfeeding support groups that have been set up. As with breastfeeding, the old way of thinking was that there were ‘signs’ which told mama’s that baby wasn’t getting enough or getting full enough on breastmilk and mama’s were advised to give formula top-ups and start feeding solids early which we are wiser about now and its about time the old way of thinking that babies need to have dummy’s should be put aside considering there can be bad side effects and why take the risk when you have a healthy natural alternative.
I love the way one mama put it ‘i only feed my babies organic!’
Are pacifiers making parents doubt their parenting abilities? As with breastfeeding, and a lot of other things, before you’ve done it its a daunting prospect because you worry whether you’ll succeed to even start, and once you’ve accomplished that there’s still the fears that you wont make it the full 6 months or more amidst the constant threat of formula and everything else hanging over your head almost encouraging you to fail. But when you have succeeded despite all the odds there is that wonderful sense of accomplishment and you feel like superwomen, like you could feed a thousand babies in one sitting! It is such a rewarding feeling and having gone through 7 months parenting without a dummy i definitely have that rewarding feeling. I feel like I’ve accomplished something good!
What parents need is to restore the belief in their parenting capabilities without the threat of a dummy hanging over them. If you make the decision beforehand that pacifier’s are not an option for you, you wont ‘need’ them. You may want one to make your life easier and thats when you will need the support and encouragement to remind you that you CAN do it, YOU ARE CAPABLE as you are and you don’t need to depend on a piece of silicone to make you a better parent. All your baby needs is you, if you encourage him he will settle for a substitute, sure, but thats not what he/she really wants. Maybe we should stop trying to convince ourselves that second-best is good enough when we know what we all really want is only the absolute best for our precious babies; opinions may differ on what the best is but facts remain the same.
Throw that dummy away… I say!
“How many a man has dated a new era in his life from the reading of a book! The book exists for us, perchance, that will explain our miracles and reveal new ones. The at present unutterable things we may find somewhere uttered.” – Henry David Thoreau
The ever-daunting first blog! Feels like when you buy an expensive notebook with every intention of fulling it with all the useful things in your head but you arrive home and find yourself staring at the first page, pen in hand, and a completely blank mind.