Baby Wants Her Soother

I love the expression on Jade’s face in the first few seconds after I put her soother in her mouth. Her eyes scowl slightly and her mouth opens in a grimace, as if to say “Why on earth would I want to suck on this plastic thing?”

Then, if I hold the soother there, she starts sucking, making the soother squeak and wiggle against her face. If she sucks on it for a while, it leaves little red parenthesis on her chubby cheeks.

Sometimes I wonder why I’m giving her the soother. I picture myself fishing for it in her car seat when she drops it, crawling under the crib to find it late at night, popping it into my own mouth to clean it when she drops it at the grocery store. In three years or less, I’ll be trying to convince her to give it up. So why do I pop it into her mouth again when she tries to spit it out?

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When to Start a Soother

Sunshine didn’t have a soother until she was about three months old. Then I noticed she was using me as a soother—late at night, after she’d finished nursing, she’d still be attached and if I tried to move, she woke up. Getting a soother solved the problem, as I could slip the soother into her mouth and she’d stay asleep for several hours.

I don’t remember when we started Lily on her soother, but it was much younger. She also didn’t use it for as long as Sunshine did; we dropped it on a walk one day when she was about eighteen months, and she never looked back.

When Jade was four weeks old, I got out her soothers. Dr. Sears recommends waiting until six weeks to introduce soothers/bottles (if you’re breastfeeding) to prevent nipple confusion, but Jade was such a good nurser I didn’t think it was a problem. She’d had a few really fussy nights—nights when I’d spent two or three hours changing her, nursing her, bouncing her, changing her, rocking her, swaddling her, nursing her, bouncing her, until I was ready to cry and she still wasn’t sleep.

She seemed to want to nurse, but after a couple sucks she’d come off wailing. So I got out the soother, hoping that maybe it would help calm her. It did.

Why to Use a Soother

In The Baby Book, Dr. Sears says, “Babies have an intense need to suck, and some have more intense needs than others. Babies even suck their thumbs in the womb. Next to holding and feeding, sucking is the most time-tested comforter.”

I’ve noticed with all three of my daughters that there were times when the soother definitely soothed. For Sunshine, this included times of transition such as the arrival of a new sibling or our move to BC.

With both Sunshine and Lily, we used the soothers mostly for bedtime and naptime. We also used it in the car. It’s hard to comfort a baby who is strapped into a car seat just out of reach of Mommy. Older babies can play with toys or look at books, but younger babies are left to wonder why Mommy won’t hold them right now. A soother has definitely made it easier to travel with Jade.

Sometimes, I feel guilty giving Jade a soother. I should be doing something more or something else that would make her happy. Dr. Sears says, “Ideally, pacifiers are for the comfort of babies, not the convenience of parents. … Always relying on an alternative peacemaker lessens the buildup of baby’s trust in the parents and denies the parents a chance to develop baby-comforting skills.”

I try to make sure that the soother is my last resort—the item I pull out only when bouncing or changing or nursing doesn’t work to soothe Jade.

Were your children thumb suckers or soother suckers?  How do you feel about soothers?

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  1. Laurie Collett May 21, 2013
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