I was shocked recently to read that you’re supposed to wean your child off dummies around the age of one. Blondie was way older than that, and 16-month-old Red loves dummies so much she hoards them, wanders around with one in each hand, and swaps them from her mouth without us seeing her do so, which makes it look like she’s wearing some sort of magical, ever-changing, multicoloured pacifier. In light of reading this, I initially felt like Mummy Cool and I were failures as parents.
We never wanted Blondie to have a dummy. We were like lots of first-time parents, smugly deciding our little child wouldn’t need one, as well as hardly watching TV… all this soon fell by the wayside. In fact we acquiesced in the first week, at around 4am one morning when she had been awake crying the entire night. We had exhausted all options until it occurred to us we had one hidden away, just in case. Bingo, she fell silent, and from that day onwards, they were inseparable for much of the time. She’s quite a chatterbox, to put it mildly, and especially at bedtime, so it became known as her ‘off button’. I have many “happy” memories of blindly panicking in the middle of the night as I searched for the damn thing in darkness, knowing it was key to getting this troubled sleeper back to the land of nod. She became so attached to her final dummy that she would go postal if we dared try and palm her off with others that looked exactly the same. I’d love to know how she could tell, as we tried to work out the difference by having a quick suckle ourselves, and they were exactly the same. And yes, that was quite a sight to behold…
So maybe we should have tried harder and sooner to wean her off it, cosmetically they can look silly once children get past a certain age, and they don’t do their teeth any good, but Blondie is one strong-willed girl, and she needed that comfort, and if a child needs comfort, is it such a bad thing to let them feel better? What alternative is there? I feel lucky she was never a thumbsucker. What are you supposed to do then, hide their own hands from them?
We were hoping that Red would be a more mellow baby, and she was and is in many ways, but it seems as if she likes dummies even more than her sister, and one of the few times she really lets rip is if she can’t get at one. It drives me mad and I’m always taking them out, as she’s so tiny I feel like it’s hiding half her beautiful face and preventing her from getting to grips with talking. Having said that, although we’ll try much sooner the second time around, there’s no way I’m following the prescribed advice and making her give up any time soon, because behind the dummy I can see a relaxed smile, and I can’t hear any panicked screaming. So I guess the answer to the ‘dummy or not dummy?’ question is a disgruntled ‘Oh, go on then’.