Milestones that gave me anxiety as a parent:
- Potty Training
- Losing Naptime
- Solo Trips
- Tantrums In Public
Milestones that the very thought of would give me nightmares.
- Giving up the Dummy
I can’t have been alone with that fear. I understand some babies don’t want a dummy, some only want it every now and then, but some others need a dummy like they need air. There is a stigma against them, but why? It keeps the baby happy and contented which means the parent is happy and contented. Why create a stressful environment? Some babies need a security blanket, some a teddy and others a dummy. Get over it all you dummy-shamers!
Because of the potential shame, I was reluctant to give my daughter a dummy. Even the health visitor tried to talk me out of it… but my relationship with her is another matter. But by week 3 (I think!), and an unhappy, unsettling baby, it was suggested that we try a dummy and oh my lord, the peace. We suddenly had a very happy baby, which meant Daddy and I were a lot happier too.
The night time battles were fun, with one arm in her crib keeping it plugged in as she settled to go to sleep. The day she learned to plug it in herself was beautiful! And to stop it dropping on the floor I invested in some dummy straps, but she then developed an odd habit…
She would tuck the strap into the dummy, so it was against her lip. If you pulled it out, she would tuck it back in. Even up to the age of 3, that strap would get tucked in. THAT was her security blanket. She hated having a dummy that didn’t have a strap.
I knew at some point I would have to stop giving her the dummy during the day. It wasn’t encouraged for her to have one in nursery as she got older. Eventually I was able to implement a ‘no dummy downstairs’ rule which she took to really well. There was the odd time she managed to sneak it down, so it became a game between us. Sometimes she would decide she wanted to play in her bedroom which was fine… but she knew once she was in her bedroom she could have it. Sneaky little sausage. But once she was in her jammas for bed, the dummy could come downstairs too. That I allowed… but how would I stop her using it at bed time?
Part of the issue was how much security it gave her. She needed the strap. In the past I tried giving her just the strap without the dummy but she wasn’t having any of it. They came as a pair. So what would I do? People suggested giving it to Santa… but would I want a very upset, unsettled toddler on Christmas Eve? Or Christmas Day night? Would I be setting myself up for trouble? She turned 3 years old in November, so that Christmas would have been the perfect age, but I couldn’t do it.
As I went to collect her from my parents last week, my mum made a comment about giving them to the Easter Bunny instead, but I still couldn’t have imagined giving it a go. Call it fear if you like, but when your toddler is addicted to something you don’t want to attempt taking it away. If someone tried to take coffee away from me I can tell you I would be having a MAJOR tantrum myself!
But then, two days ago… an opportunity presented itself.
She lost one of her dummies. Only 2 of them had straps (at least 4 without). 1 of them had been MIA for a few weeks, but the other one… where the hell was it? But then she said, without prompt from me or anyone, ‘The Easter bunny taken it’.
‘Yes,’ I said suddenly. ‘Yes, the Easter bunny has taken it.’ Sudden panic and fear, eyes darting around for it. Couldn’t see it anywhere. ‘Yes I think the Easter bunny wants it, so he can bring you lots of Easter eggs.’
‘Yeah,’ she was buying it. She was accepting it. Was this the moment? There was no turning back now. She trotted off downstairs and I grabbed EVERY dummy I could find. It was now or never… I even found the 2 dummies with straps. I had them all…
Do you remember the scene from Transpotting where Ewan McGregor is in bed and coming off Heroin, cold turkey?
It took two of us to settle her, but I knew I couldn’t go back and give her the dummy. After all, the Easter Bunny had taken them… how would I explain that one magically came back? She wriggled, and jiggled, and moaned. I was plastered to the monitor watching her, and to be fair… it only took an hour and she was asleep. I even expected her to wake in the night, upset that she didn’t have it.. but she didn’t! She woke up around 7am and didn’t even mention it.
Night 2. She asked for it again… took some time for her to settle… but once again she settled herself (after some strong discussion and singsongs with Tigger and Chase).
Night 3. Tonight. No mention of it at all. She doesn’t go straight to sleep, she has to chat to her teddies first, but we’ve done it!
So, after all that fear and worry, we are off the dummies. I never could have imagined this moment. And I could never have begrudged her for clinging to it for so long. She’s had it pretty much all her life, it was part of her ‘normal’.
My next big concern… the amount of Chocolate Easter Eggs I will have to buy her, ha! (Roll on the addiction to chocolate…)