Making Peace With the Pacifier

Because I was a nanny for many years before becoming a mother, I came to motherhood with certain preferences for baby care already in place. I liked to ditch the stroller as soon as possible once a child was walking. I had a preferred method for weaning a child off a bottle and onto a sippy cup. I stuck to three meals a day and one afternoon snack. And I never, ever gave a child a pacifier during the day unless they were sick once they’d turned one. As it happens, those methods, while great for the kids in my care in the city I lived in, are not at all great for my kids. When it comes to stroller use, bottles, and meals, I have legitimate reasons to use a different plan. But the pacifier? That is the one thing that I can’t justify doing a different way than I always did it before. And yet I do.

When we met Elvie, we had all sorts of soothing items in the diaper bag for her to try, and a few pacifiers were among those items. I knew that we would be new and unfamiliar, and I figured that whatever would make her feel better was exactly what we wanted to give her to ease her transition. When we arrived to find her so small and sick, I felt like there weren’t enough soothing items in all the world to help my tiny baby. But what we brought was all we had, so we offered things to her. When I put the pacifier in her mouth, it was love at first suck. It calmed her when she needed extra help. So we gave it to her whenever she wanted it, and that is what we do to this day.

A couple of months ago, I resolved to have her use the pacifier less. I was going to stop clipping it to her clothes and only offer it at nap and night, or if she were particularly distressed about something. I got right down to business, and it went well except for one thing. When we actually needed a pacifier, we had trouble finding one, because we didn’t have a guaranteed option clipped right to her clothes. It only took three days for me to start clipping it to her clothes again. In that case, convenience won.

Then, she started teething. I knew then that a pacifier-free existence would not be one we’d be living anytime soon. Just like when we first met her, the pacifier soothes her in a way that no amount of rocking or snuggling can. When she is hurt or cranky or just plain tired, she wants her pacifier and her lovey, Lamby, and nothing else will do. While I’m sure we could work on other soothing techniques, I’ve decided I don’t want to, and there is a very good reason for that, one I didn’t think of in my over-zealous attempt to limit usage to nap and night.

Elvie will be having more surgeries. The pacifier was such a help to her when she was in the hospital last time that I know I want to have it in our arsenal of comforting things from home. The pacifier is familiar to her, and it makes her feel good when she’s having trouble. I will continue to allow her  to use the pacifier whenever she likes, until she doesn’t need it anymore. It only seems right.

So I’ve made my peace with pacifiers. My baby needs hers, and that’s all right. It’s good, even. I’m glad we had it when she first needed it, and I’m glad she’ll have it for future medical procedures, and I’m glad she has it now. Someday she won’t need it, but that day is not today, and that’s okay.

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