Motherhood for dummies

miffy, amelia and dummy

The night before last I was a very bad mum. I gave my 5 week old baby a dummy (soother, pacifier etc.). O-oh.

It was Melbourne Cup Day and in Melbourne that means we get a public holiday (that’s right, a public holiday for a horse race) so Big-P was home and Special-K and Dr Beard came over to visit. Amelia J decided that post 10am she didn’t want to sleep at all and not only did she not want to sleep but she didn’t even want to be horizontal, not even in my arms. Instead it was either peeping over a friendly shoulder so she couuld be part of the action, while being supported and patted on the back or cry cry cry. This went on all day and needless to say we were exhausted by dinner time when my Mum came over to rescue us and cooking us some food (yey Mum!). By bed time (post “soothing” bath, post “soothing” feed) she was still sooking and it looked like we were in for a long, long night. It was then that I looked at Big-P and said “we could try a dummy…”

What’s the problem with using a dummy I hear you ask. Well, in the breastfeeding class I attended just before Amelia J was born the Midwife put the fear in me. She told us in a very foreboding voice that we should avoid using bottles and dummies for the first six weeks as it can mess up breastfeeding. This is the crucial time when the baby is learning how to attach to the breast and if she uses a dummy or a bottle she can get into the habit of attaching and sucking incorrectly. This is what is referred to as “nipple confusion” and nobody wants to suffer from that! So there’s that one problem but there is also the “dummy addiction” which can result in a five year old in funky knee high boots standing beside me at the pharmacy last week choosing the colour of their new dummy from the rack above her. She picked out a cute pink dummy and said to her mum: “Can I have the dummy in the car Mummy?” and the Mummy replied “No, we have to take it home and wash it first.” and the five year old replied “but I can wash it in my mouth!”. A child who is able to argue with such infallible logic is perhaps a tad old to be toting a dummy in public. Mind you, I sucked my thumb until I was thirteen accompanied by a rather revolting old blanky, so really, if my daughter wants to find comfort in a dummy then I am not one to criticise. Lastly there is the issue that she might get used to sleeping with it and in later months will cry hysterically any time she spits it out… which will make for many more disturbed nights potentially for the rest of our lives. Ah well.

So I said to Big-P, “we could try a dummy…” and he gave me a quick and furtive nod, after all, sleep is a precious commodity these days. I dug through my big box of baby paraphernalia and found three little dummies, boiled them for five minutes to sterilise them and then popped one in the open and crying mouth of baby A J and she instantly fell into a deep and delicious five hour sleep. Absolute bliss.

Big P pointed out to me that this is the kind of thing a first time parent worries about and wouldn’t give a second thought to the next time around.

Since then I have used it a couple more times and it really seems to calm her… bad mum = happy baby.