My Heart, Your Home: Giving Up The Dummy At 18 Months   

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Giving Up The Dummy At 18 Months



Before I gave birth to my Daughter I used to look at Mother's putting the dummy back in their babies mouths before they even had a chance to squeak and I used to judge. I am ashamed to admit it but I always thought to myself 'that is such lazying parenting'. I was never going to grow up and have a child who depending on the dummy. Not ever.

From the moment Evelyn was born it was clear that she was generally a sucky baby. Trying to wrap her little mouth around anything that presented itself. She was also born a very bad sleeper, having a lot of difficulty drifting off to sleep and remaining asleep. Before long I went out and purchased my first dummy. I decided then and there that although I may be giving her a dummy, she will never use that dummy outside of nap times. Except for those select few times in the early weeks when I needed to do my makeup for a night out and only had 5 minutes left. Since I made that decision, I have been true to my word and that dummy does not leave the perimeters of the cot.

Evelyn became a wonderful sleeper. I was able to put her down each night without a peep. Before 18 months I could not tell you the last time she awoke over night. Mostly she would sleep without the dummy, but she used it as her wind down routine. Each morning when I pull her out of bed she knows to 'ta for mummy' and she places the dummy in my hand. She has never cried for it and she has never tried to sneak it into her days. 

In the last few months I was beginning to notice, each morning, that there was a ring of hair wrapped around the dummy. Every day I would cut the hair away from it, give it a wash and return it to her bed without so much as a second thought. Until the hair on the top of her head began to thin. So I started to investigate and I found that a part of her wind down routine was to suck the dummy, then run it through her hair and put it back in her mouth. The rough rubber would just pull on her hair and break it, or rip it completely out of her head. 

I was devastated that my girl's beautiful hair was being ruined so I had a decision to make. I really was not ready to take the dummy away from her as it had become a part of her nightly routine and it was not causing any harm. But I decided that now was a better time than ever. So with great hesitation, one Sunday night, I put her down to bed without her dummy.

The first few days were fine. It would take 10 to 15 minutes each night for her to settle, but she drifted off into slumber without too much hysteria. Until we sent her to her Grandparents for a couple of nights. There, she found a dummy. She came home a spawn of the devil himself!

Her whole persona changed. She was no longer my gentle, calm little girl. But rather, she was full of attitude and frustration. She was quick tempered. She refused to sleep... at all. No more day naps and not going to sleep until 9-10pm at night. Waking up earlier than ever before and often waking throughout the night. There was no solution I could do to get her to go to sleep. No amount of playing, running, swimming would tire her out. No amount of cuddling, patting or rocking would help her to drift away. She was angry. 

I am embarrassed to say it but it actually did not occur to me that this whole shift in her happiness could possibly be the responsibility of the missing dummy. My Daughter, who never cried for the dummy. My Daughter, who feel asleep beautifully for the first 4 nights without the dummy. How could it possibly be the dummy that she was so dreadfully missing?

This week I decided that enough was enough. I decided that I would give her back that dummy, just to see. She had been in and out of bed for three hours on this day, me trying to coax her to sleep, pleading ever so desperately for her to just please go to sleep. I laid her back in her cot and I presented the dummy. Her face light up with absolute glee, she smiled and she clapped her hands. I placed it in her mouth and asked her to go to sleep and closed the door behind me. I did not hear another word from her, for two hours! When I checked on her, I found her like this...

When she woke up she was standing there, dummy in hand, literally squealing with delight. In a matter of two hours my devil child had found her happiness again. She was no longer mad or frustrated. She spent the rest of that day with serious 'Mum Love' eyes. I have never, in my life, seen anyone be so thankful!


A wave of relief washed over me. Followed quickly by despair and a lot guilt and a touch of embarrassment. How on earth did I think it was ok to put either of us through that torturous month? It made us both miserable. We were both unrested and highly strung. Stroppy with each other and quick to get upset over the smallest things. A month. An entire month I allowed this ludicrous episode to continue. For what? I didn't want to take it away from her and she definitely didn't want to say goodbye to it. All because she was ruining her hair. Hair which will grow back. I wont get that month back.

I have learnt from this, that all things run their due course and not to rush them. Neither of us were ready for this decision and it turned out to be one of the worst Mothering decisions I have made to date. I will let her give me the dummy in the future, when she is good and ready.

For both our sanity's!

12 comments:

  1. I hear you chick - my motto is they will do it when they are ready. For all sorts of things. I find I often want to push for results because I think about what OTHER people think of my child or my parenting, particularly my Father. The relationship you have with your baby is precious and nobodys business but your own - no point harming it over something that will happen of its own accord and isnt doing any harm.
    Mind you, Master J is two next month and a dummy is never far from his mouth, if not in it, in and out of bed. Im thinking maybe trade it in next Christmas.....or the one after - when he is ready xxxxx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If it werent for the ripping of her hair I would have absolutely no problem with the dummy.
      It really is not an issue and is not hurting anyone, until it is hurting them ie. teeth, speech etc so I dont see a rush for taking it away from them. I would totally wait until you are both ready to trade it in with Master J. You will know when the time is right, I knew that it wasnt yet right and I went ahead anyway which was just the biggest mistake I could make.
      x

      Delete
  2. Toddler C was a sucky baby too...I did offer him a dummy but he never wanted it...instead he found his thumb.
    Although I worry he will suck his thumb for ages and get teased and need braces, I don't do anything about it...I certainly can't take his thumb away!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Some babies are just born to be suckers arent they!
      I kind of wish Evelyn would have found her thumb in this last month just so that she wasnt damaging her hair anymore but I actually feel like part of her comfort is the feeling of playing with her hair like that.
      They will both stop sucking when they are ready, I shouldnt have rushed Evelyn!
      xx

      Delete
  3. Oh it's so hard when faced with things like that - what you think you should do v what you actually want to do. I've been lucky that both of my sucky babies found their thumbs/fingers, so haven't had to deal with the dummy thing, although I don't have a clue how you go about stopping a child from sucking his beloved thumb! xx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I am not sure how you go about that either Anna! But I have heard a lot of stories of children going to school and learning that none of their friends suck their thumbs and they stop doing it on their own accord. I have said it before but Ill say it again, they arent hurting anyone so it really is no big deal is it?
      xx

      Delete
  4. I had a thumb sucker and that is WAY harder to get rid of than a dummy. How many adults have their special vices and no one tries to take them away. This parenting gig is hard. Trust your gut.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You are totally right Sally.
      We dont expect adults to give up their creature comforts at all! Not until they are hurting them or others so it really is unfair to put such pressure on a child!
      From now on I will be trusting only my instincts!
      xx

      Delete
  5. I was the same as you. I had an aversion to dummies so my son found his thumb instead. I know that will be harder to stop once he's older (i embarrasingly sucked my thumb till i was 10!) but it really is a comfort thing. Its when i see kids at Kindy age still with dummies that it doesnt look right but stick with your gut. Only you as a parent know when your child is ready. x

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I agree Melissa, I have never been a fan of the dummy in the mouth at any age, which is why I limited it to sleep times only. But we all do what we need to do to survive!
      x

      Delete
  6. The one thing about a dummy is that at least there WILL come a time when you can get rid of it - not so easy to do with a thumb!!

    ReplyDelete