Before I became a mother, I used to secretly judge the parents of babies I saw sucking on a pacifier in public. I saw pacifiers as a way to ‘shut the baby up’ when they cried or were unsettled. I couldn’t understand why the parents didn’t just attend to their baby’s needs rather than make a rod for their own backs by creating a dependence on the pacifier that they would later have to wean their baby off.
Then we had our baby.
At first, we didn’t touch the pacifiers we’d been gifted. We attended to our baby whenever he needed us and spent hours soothing him when he had trouble sleeping. Some nights I gave up trying to get him to sleep in the bedroom and sat on the sofa. Watching Netflix until dawn, with baby snoozing in my lap so my partner could get some sleep.
Then one night, my partner was caring for our baby while I slept for a couple of hours between nursing sessions. He was trying desperately to soothe him and keep him quiet to avoid waking me. He knew that if I was awake, baby would be nursing for comfort. On a whim he tried offering a bottle teat to him and for just a second, he sucked on it and calmed down.
Encouraged, my partner quickly found the pacifiers and sterilized them, then offered one to our baby and IT WORKED! He calmed instantly and was able to relax enough to drift off in his dad’s arms. When he began to stir again, my partner was able to bring him to me and gently wake me to nurse him. Which made a nice change for all of us to not feel stressed and rushed into feeding him.
So the pacifiers became part of our kit and we even bought more.
It didn’t change our approach to parenting. We still attend to our baby whenever he needs us and we still make sure he has support. In the way of hearing our voices and feeling our touch as he drifts of to sleep. He still often nurses for comfort as well as nutrition.
Itdid change how easy it is for our baby to get to sleep when he’s feeling overwhelmed. Or having trouble shutting off after a big day, of learning new things.
It did change how much sleep we all get now we don’t necessarily have to spend ages patting and soothing our baby.
It did make me cringe how judgmental I was before.
In Australia they are usually called ‘dummies’. I now realize that ‘pacifier’, or even better, ‘soother’ are much more appropriate terms for them. They pacify and soothe our baby. While allowing him to take a breath and reset. There are probably people judging me, just as I used to judge. They probably don’t understand, why I don’t attend to my baby’s needs rather than just ‘shutting him up’ with a pacifier.
Well it turns out that sometimes, what my baby really needs is to be ‘pacified’.