September 6, 2007

One of the many, many things that I foreswore ever doing as a parent, before becoming a parent, was giving my child a pacifier. I didn’t really have any good reason, other than disliking the look of them, but still, I’d decided: my child would not have some silicone dummy stuck to her face.

That noble intention was revised about 24 hours after Wonderbaby arrived. I wish that I could say that it was because the lactation consultant told us that it would help with her sucking reflex or because the nurse said that soothers were understood to reduce the risk of SIDS - and they did indeed say these things, which I later dutifully repeated to anyone who looked at me twice when I popped a soother in Wonderbaby’s mouth – but that wouldn’t, strictly speaking, be true. Those statements provided good justifications for the soother, but really? I padded down the hallway of the maternity ward to the tuck shop on the second day of Wonderbaby’s life and bought six soothers to stop the screaming that was becoming the hallmark of any efforts to get her to sleep. To put a cork in it, as it were.

And it worked, brilliantly. For months thereafter Her Bad Father and I would, when rallying our resources to get Wonderbaby to nap or settle down for the night, casually remind each other to cork her. And, thus corked (and soothed and swaddled), she would settle down, and even if she wasn’t so reliable with staying down for those daytime naps, she would always happily suck away for at least six hours of sleep at night. (I, of course, would lay awake all night, reassured by the happy sucking noises, but nonetheless on alert for the moment that a) the sucking stopped, or b) the sucking was replaced by a hungry cry.)

That she loved what came to be called her Soovy was clear early on. Once she was able to crawl, and later walk, she would advance upon unsuspecting children and snatch their pacifiers for herself (she usually imposed a swap – I would say negotiate, but Wonderbaby doesn’t negotiate – grabbing theirs and offering hers in return. Occasionally, if she was lacking a Soovy, she would simply appropriate one from another child, which was cause for much embarassment, but she would always return it when asked and when offered another in its stead. I did, needless to say, keep a stock of soovies with me at all times.) So it was that we were vigilant against the development of too extreme an attachment. We tried to reserve the Soovy for bedtime and naptime (such as it was) and emergencies, and at earliest opportunity we began suggesting to Wonderbaby that Soovy (along with Toadstool, nee Phallic Lovey) be left in bed in the morning and after naps and for a time she was entirely co-operative.

Then she started part-time daycare, and all was lost. It’s a long story, and one that I’m not up to writing about, but Wonderbaby didn’t immediately take to daycare. We went through gut-wrenching morning after gut-wrenching morning of child abandonment as we waited for her to adapt and, as we struggled through that process, it seemed to me too cruel to demand that she – abandoned by her sorry excuse for a mother – should be bereft of her loveys. So she was permitted to keep Soovy and Toadstool with her every morning.

And she has not let go of them since.

They’re like crack to her now, in a way that they never were before. Deprived of them for any amount of time, she will demand to know where they are (Where Toadstool? Where Soovy? SOOVYTOADSTOOL!!!) If we leave them at home, to, say, venture into public without our child clutching an oversized stuffed phallus and chomping on a soother, she will invariably cry and demand that we return home to fetch them (Home. HOME. SOOVYTOADSTOOLHOME!) (we do not, as a matter of course, give in to her demands. But grocery shopping has suddenly become very, very difficult.)

I’m not sure whether to be concerned about this or not. She’s not yet 22 months old, and is, I think, entitled to childish attachments. I don’t want to impose my prejudices and aesthetic judgments on her – I don’t like the look of the Soovy, I don’t like that she’s so attached to it, and I would prefer that she not drag a giant stuffed phallus around with her, but aren’t those my problems? (Problems, not incidentally, that I created myself. I didn’t disdain the Soovy when it helped her suckling reflex and facilitated sleep. And I thought that the phallus – sorry, Toadstool – was funny at first.) There’s plenty of time in our shared future for me to insist that she lose this or that offensive accessory, that she not dare walk our front door with whatever thing attached to her face, that she follow my rules under my roof, etc, etc. She’s not even two years old. Shouldn’t I cut her some slack?

So it is that I’ve decided (unilaterally; Her Bad Father still wants to fight the good fight against all things Soovy) to let it go. She can have her Soovy, for now.

But goddamn if I’m not going to have fun with it:

Portrait of Wonderbaby with upside-down custom hillbilly Soovy. Preshus.
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    JaniceNW September 6, 2007 at 11:34 am

    Haha. Love that hillbilly Soovy. We called them binkies in our house. Whenever I considered trying to displace the ever present pacifier, some family trauma happened like a new baby brother or another baby brother, moving 2 hours away from our first home, or various things. I had a blankie until I was 6, who was I to judge? They got them in the car, in bed, after nap cranky wake up time and at times of greater than normal distress. I am happy to say that at the ages of 16 and 18 the pacifiers are gone.

    Noe September 6, 2007 at 11:43 am

    It was called ‘pacy’ at my house.
    I’ve been reading about that for a while as Ryan was 4 years old when he stopped using it.
    The doctor told them they get attached to the pacy and they give them up when they’re ‘ready’. Some kids are ready earlier than others.

    (the day he gave it up we had a special dinner for him coz he was a BIG BOY who gave up his pacy. he hasnt asked for it since…)

    Laural Dawn September 6, 2007 at 11:48 am

    My son is a little over 3. He is still quite addicted to his now-discontinued purple soother. It drives me crazy for the same reason. He looks a little ridiculous. (not to imply WB looks ridiculous. I just mean soothers in general)
    He’s growing out of it. He really is quite content to have it for naps (if one is taken/quiet time if not) and bedtime. In fact, I have found that for my child who does not feel the need to sleep, the lure of the soother is a remarkable way to get him to bed.
    Maybe this is bad parenting, but I say use it as a bribe. And by all means if she’s having a rough time at daycare let her have it. She’s not even 2. If she was 6 then it would be a different story. There are much bigger battles, I think.
    And, I spoke to my doctor and dentist about the soother issue.
    Both agreed that 4 is a good age to give it up for both speech and dental reasons.
    We’ve been toilet training and Matt feels like a big boy now, and has actually been saying he doesn’t need his soother since he’s a big boy. It will happen.

    Suz September 6, 2007 at 12:04 pm

    That’s probably the most hysterical paci I’ve ever seen. We have identical twins – one doesn’t much care for it while the other won’t let it go. This baby searches under cribs and around chairs for what is called his “doice.” When found, into his mouth it goes.

    Mouse September 6, 2007 at 12:11 pm

    We started out with the intention of waiting on the pacifier until breastfeeding was well established. We gave up on our third night home. But he wouldn’t take it! Never liked pacifiers (or bottles, for that matter). At least he eventually discovered his thumb. He’s 4 now and I can tell his level of distress/exhaustion by whether or not he’s sucking on it during the day. Still not ready to fight that in any organized manner.

    DD September 6, 2007 at 12:21 pm

    I am grateful for the outside intervention our caregiver gave when my son was 6 months old. She said to start weaning him NOW and we did and by 8 mos, it was a nighttime habit and by 10 mos, it was gone.

    I’ll be honest and admit it bothers me to see children old enough to walk with pacifiers, but as you said, that’s my problem b/c of the perceptions I have. As a parent, we all do what we can and fight the battles as our energy levels allow. We would rather know our child is happy and if that means carrying around a fluffy phallus or two, so be it.

    Mimi September 6, 2007 at 12:23 pm

    Niiiiiice. We call ours ‘suck suck’ and Munchkin didn’t get hooked until she was 9 months old. They only let her have at naptime at daycare (along with doudou, her comfort diaper — how’s that for an abject aesthetic failure?).

    Anyhow. Yeah, she’ll get over it, but what’s the harm for right now? Especially since she’s having a tough transition to daycare?

    Niksmom September 6, 2007 at 12:23 pm

    ROFLMAO at the hillbilly soovy!

    FWIW, my son had a “pacy” that was a specialty type for preemies. Had a giant friggin’ duck attached to it. He *always* had that thing in his mouth (well, once he got off the ventilator but that’s a long story…). One day, around the age of 2, Nik simply tossed Ducky over the side of his crib and has never looked back! So there’s hope that WB will simply give it up on her own…maybe.

    You’re on your own with Toadstool! (Snorts w/laughter…)

    Christine September 6, 2007 at 12:26 pm

    hurray for soovies!

    we loved pacifiers around here (well the kids did). i felt really weird about them with my oldest and took it away from her at 18 months. i felt very Righteous and like a Good Mommy for do it before she was too big. but she needed it and had a horrible time and began biting and sucking on other things. I say let her have it (because by advice is so sage and smart, yeah right!)–it will pass and someday you’ll wonder where they all went.

    ali September 6, 2007 at 12:42 pm

    we have a binky-will is almost 2 and a 1/2 and more attached then ever. he either wants it in his mouth or nearby just in case, and if he is tired, whiney, relaxing or hurt it is the first thing he wants. my pede told me at his two year check up that i was already a few months late getting rid of it, and that it was affecting his teeth, except his teeth look just like his fathers (and i told the pede that). we are having a new baby in about two and half weeks, we are moving his bedroom very shortly. i think these are good enough reasons to not take away a comfort object!

    Noodle & Monkey's Mom September 6, 2007 at 12:51 pm

    The “Paci Fairy” visited my house on the night of the kids’ 2nd birthdays and took their pacis for babies being born who needed them more than my “big kids.” In exchange, she left some small presents under their pillows. Worked like a charm.

    dana September 6, 2007 at 12:53 pm

    I had this insane notion that if I gave Dawson a pacifier it would ruin all attempts at nursing. This is because my family and friends insisted it was true and as a very impressionable pregnant woman I believed it!

    I later tried a pacifier when he was 2 weeks old because the crying was unbearable and I was tired of nursing all damn night. I thought of co-sleeping but again with the family poo-pooing that.

    So Dawson never got attached to a nuk. But he sure as hell drags his favorite blanket everywhere he goes! That’s his soother, I guess.

    Cathy September 6, 2007 at 12:55 pm

    My dad calls them “plugs” — for obvious reasons.

    Our oldest clung to her “mee-mee” (bedtime, mainly) until she was nearly three.

    Which is when the Mee-Mee Fairy arrived one night to take all the mee-mees so they could be distributed to babies who needed mee-mees.

    In return, the Mee-Mee Fairy left behind a pair of hot-pink boots.

    Daughter grieved for one day.

    Then she decided a new pair of shoes can take away just about any sting.

    Ann September 6, 2007 at 12:58 pm

    I showed the hillbilly Soovy photo to my almost 3 year old and her reply, “Holy Choppers!”

    bubandpie September 6, 2007 at 12:59 pm

    I have a photo of WB and Pie engaging in exactly that soother-negotiation last July (on the one occasion when they met). As I recall, I think that Pie was lucky she had the clip attaching her soother to her shirt.

    Pie isn’t using them during the day – or, at least, she wasn’t until this week (the transition back into day-care seems to have prompted a regression in this respect) – but I’m happy for her to keep using them at night for as long as she feels she needs to.

    Kim September 6, 2007 at 1:05 pm

    As my mother told me: “She won’t be walking down the aisle at her wedding with a pacifier in her mouth”. Wonderbaby will give up the goods when she is ready to!

    dawn224 September 6, 2007 at 1:10 pm

    Sucking helps neural development, it’s a good thing.

    My kid, of course, wants nothing to do with a pacifier.

    He also doesn’t sleep.

    Marie Osmond said she weaned her kids off the pacy by trimming a bit off the tip each day. A dad at work (when I got to leave the freaking house and earn a paycheck) said they poked a hole in theirs – apparently when the air is let out it changes the satisfaction of the sucking.

    And makes you feel all MacGyver and stuff.

    kgirl September 6, 2007 at 1:16 pm

    I have to admit I was a little shocked when I saw the pic of WB outside the camper with a soother in her mouth, but only because you had never brought it up before.

    I think you’re right not to impose too many transitions on her at once.
    And hey, I guarantee she won’t leave for university with it.

    The City Gal September 6, 2007 at 1:17 pm

    You mothers know better than anyone how to take the kids off the soother or the bottle, but this is something that I learned from Super Nanny:

    let’s say we would like to replace the Soovy with Sippy Cup. We would need to create a Soovy/Sippy fairy. Have a little celebtration when the Fair comes to take away Soovy and bring the Sippy in a nicely wrapped package. (this way we know Soovy cannot come back!)

    You could perhaps combine this with her 2nd birthday, so that she knows she is becoming a big girl and big girls lose the Soovy and take their sippy with them everywhere.

    From what I have heard, the Soother is not very good when the child almost has a full set of teeth.

    painted maypole September 6, 2007 at 1:17 pm

    OK, your child sleeps with a phallic symbol and sucks all night long. There is just too much humor there.

    My baby wouldn’t take a pacifier, she preferred to scream. It wasn’t much fun when she was an infant, but then we never had to deal with the weening part of it, either.

    something blue September 6, 2007 at 1:22 pm

    Me knows nuthin bout the English language but this might be the one item that has the most words associated with it.

    We took the label Nuk combined with my mother’s name for it pippy and tried to get the girls to have a nippy. They had no interest until they saw their cool daycare friends all had one. Then Sooshas became all the rage. Peer pressure starts early.

    Wonderbaby represent! So cute.

    PunditMom September 6, 2007 at 1:30 pm

    Oh, she’s going to get you for that one. Maybe not now, but when she’s, say, 17??

    mayberry September 6, 2007 at 2:01 pm

    No comment on the loveys from this mother of a 5-yr-old thumbsucker and a 2.5-yr-old binky man. But that last picture…it’s like Precious Moments on crack (or maybe meth is more appropriate).

    Janet September 6, 2007 at 2:03 pm

    My first two loved their soothers (“soo-soo’s” at our house) and, oh, how I tried to get #3 to take one! She refused. At the time I felt desperate, but now I am thankful that I never have to do the pocket-patting-checking-every-damn-crevice-in-the-diaper-bag-oh-my-god-we-forgot-the-freakin’-soother! panic dance when we aren’t at home.

    Oh, and when it does come time to say goodbye to the soother? Let’s say WB is three and decides on her own that she doesn’t want to take it to a sleepover at Grandmas. So you throw it in the garbage while she’s gone, because she seems to over it. When she comes home and asks after her soother, don’t actually tell her that you threw it in the garbage, whilst your husband looks on, incredulous at your inept mothering. Because your daugher will be devestated and cry about the soother every time she thinks about it. For months.

    Just a little tip from me to you.

    b*babbler September 6, 2007 at 2:24 pm

    Wonderbaby is this close to hillbilly world domination!

    I hated the sight of the pacifier, and was justly rewarded by a child that would NOT take one, no matter how hard I tried. After running through every damn type of soother, she eventually took to one. For exactly 10 days. Just enough time for me to run out and stock up, only to have her give it up. Precocious four-month old.

    Eventually I found out, to my horror, that eschewing the pacifier also left mommy without an easy method of soothing when necessary. Oops!

    Kyla September 6, 2007 at 2:25 pm

    KayTar has the Bedtime Brigade. Gee (the blanket she can not let out of her sight), Dolly, and Bunny. Gee is a requirement, Dolly and Bunny are called upon at specific times, but always needed at bedtime. Gee has been a life long attachement, Dolly and Bunny were added in the last 6 months. She needs the attachments and comforts, and we allow it. She has gone through so much, doctors, tests, and the like, and handled them so wonderfully, that I don’t mind the loveys at all. Anything for her, I’m afraid. Oh, and she’s on the bottle…but we aren’t fighting that one for medical reasons.

    All of that is to say, it is up to you. At 22 months, it surely won’t hurt to allow her those comforts.

    flutter September 6, 2007 at 2:32 pm

    This post was great, but I snorted, audibly with the bucktooth binky….oh lordy

    Blog Antagonist September 6, 2007 at 3:19 pm

    Well, I said the same thing. Pre-Pubescent One sucked his thumb, so it was non-issue. Short of duct taping his hand to his hip, there wasn’t really anything I could do to stop it. But Diminutive One…oy. He had so many issues…severe reflux, a hole in his heart…and didn’t sleep well. A pacifier helped him, and thus, it helped me. When he got to be a toddler and I realized he was “different”, there were just too many other battles to fight, and I learned quickly to picky my battles carefully. He ended up having a pacifier until he was 5, although around three we prohibited it’s use except for bedtime.

    It was one of the things that taught me to never say never when it comes to parenting. Humbling, it was.

    Avalon September 6, 2007 at 3:27 pm

    When my Princess was an early, colicky infant, she would try to sooth herself by sucking her thumb. Her neuro system was not mature enough and she would scream in vain trying to find her damn thumb. So we got her a Bink. She LOVED her Bink. As she got older, I made a rule that the Bink was only for naptime, bedtime and car-time. She was fine with it. When she was 2, I explained that she was a big girl and needed to throw her Bink away. I thought she was ready. She also seemed fine with that——-until I went into her room later that night and she was sucking her thumb! Sound asleep. For the first time in 23.5 months! She sucked her thumb until she was 8.

    Let Wonderbaby keep the Soovy a bit longer.

    Anonymous September 6, 2007 at 3:35 pm

    Yet another irony of childhood and time. Now, out of sheer desparation, we try and soothe and silence. Later on, in different contexts and in other situations, the “Toadstool and Soovy” of life will do the same.

    BOSSY September 6, 2007 at 3:39 pm

    Ha – that last photo was like the comedic rim shot on the snare drum: Ba-dum-bump.

    But let’s just say: if the addiction persists, Bossy recommends Lindsay Lohan’s Treatment Center.

    mothergoosemouse September 6, 2007 at 3:40 pm

    We do what we’ve got to do.

    (Love the name Soovy. And I honestly don’t see anything wrong with the Toadstool.)

    Tere September 6, 2007 at 4:19 pm

    Ah, we recently had the “tete battle royal” in our house. I was perfectly o.k. with leaving him with his pacifier, but his teeth were beginning to looked all effed up because of it, and it was visions of expensive orthodontic bills that got me to move on it. He’s still allowed to use it at bedtime, though.

    And the funny thing is, for us, that we never used a pacifier on him until he was about 15 months old. It just never occurred to us (seriously, and I know. We’re idiots). All those months of fighting sleep probably would have gone much more smoothly.

    Mom101 September 6, 2007 at 4:22 pm

    Yep I could have written this, almost verbatim. Although it’s “binkie” and not scoovy. Every night before bed “binkie/baba?” which became binkie/bottle which now is just binkies. Lots of them four or so.


    Dawn September 6, 2007 at 4:46 pm

    Em loved her “Mine” -she would run with one in her mouth and one in each hand….

    We called it being “Binky rich!”

    At Four we said good bye to the last of the mines, when she was down to them at night only.

    I always said to child care parents that no one goes to college with a binky in their mouth, so don’t sweat this stuff. Your sleep is FAR more precious.

    Beck September 6, 2007 at 5:29 pm

    I found that BY two – and not a minute earlier – both of my older kids were completely cheerful about giving up their soothers. It ended up not being as hard as we feared.
    The Baby never took a soother, and MY GOD we wanted her to.

    Jenifer September 6, 2007 at 6:12 pm

    In our house they were “plugs” for the literal effort of plugging that gaping hole. Rosebud will be four in a week and she just gave hers up last week (cold turkey and her idea) on our trip. They were only in her room for sleeping, but still she is almost four!

    She would rub her nose with them mostly and if she only had one she never sucked only rubbed. With Papoosie Girl we took them away at about 2 1/2 cold turkey and she was fine. When we tried that with Rosebud she practically stopped eating and sleeping.

    Even if it was our dirty little secret and mildly embarrassing it brought her comfort and that is all that mattered.

    WonderBaby is fine and I say let her have them…trust me I didn’t see one kid in JK sucking on one!

    Serendipity, baby! September 6, 2007 at 6:31 pm

    Hey with a soother like that she’d totally fit in with my British relatives… some with dental work reminiscent of the “big book of British smiles” variety. She’s adorable!

    ali September 6, 2007 at 6:32 pm

    the paci saved my life, thrice over. i swear, i wouldn’t have survived those first few weeks and months without it.

    one of these days we’ll get around to taking Isabella’s away. i just don’t have the heart right now…

    Glennia September 6, 2007 at 6:57 pm

    We had buppy (soovy) and becky (blanket). We lost becky on a bullet train in Japan, and at 7, my son has never let me forget it. The buppies just magically started disappearing everytime one fell on the floor (into the magic trashcan) at around 2 1/2.

    Just show WB that photo when she’s 3 and wants to be a princess. That should break her of the soovy habit.

    crazymumma September 6, 2007 at 7:00 pm


    Major Bedhead September 6, 2007 at 7:48 pm

    Hysterical. That should be the shot on her 16th birthday party invites.

    I have yet to break Boo’s binky habit and it, too, seems to be getting stronger rather than weaker. Maybe a few hillbilly binkies will do the trick.

    slouching mom September 6, 2007 at 8:05 pm

    Three. She has until three. How ’bout it?

    HilaryS September 6, 2007 at 8:26 pm

    I too tried to keep my daughter off the pacifier until breastfeeding was well established. I too threw in the towel and did whatever was necessary to calm her. She took to the pacifier right away, which was a huge relief to me as I didn’t want to become a human pacifier. Breastfeeding was still hard work, but I don’t think the pacifier interfered. Nothing was easy with my P-chan, and still isn’t, so I’m not trying to brag when I say she weaned herself at 10 mos. I think the trick was that I just never bought a bigger size – we kept the original size 0.

    HilaryS September 6, 2007 at 8:49 pm

    Sorry – I didn’t finish before I accidentally hit enter. Anyway, I was cheap and lazy and never got a bigger size pacifier and my daughter just quit using it on her own. In fact, she throws it if I try giving it to her. But, we are still co-sleeping, and waking up every 2 hours for comfort nursing, so it’s not all roses….

    Christina September 6, 2007 at 9:02 pm

    I promised Cordy a pony if she would just take the damn pacifier as a baby. Didn’t work. The offer still stands for Mira, too, but she is also uninterested. Maybe I need to offer a car when she’s 16?

    You’re right – she’s not even two yet, so I wouldn’t worry about it. Work on it once she’s a little older and better understands altruism. Then you can ask her to give it up so you can give her soovys to the babies who need them.

    Kelly September 6, 2007 at 9:03 pm

    Her eyes look so forlorn, and yet the teeth, so dang hilarious!

    Pgoodness September 6, 2007 at 9:09 pm

    LOL at the hillbilly Soovy!

    I was just like you – no no no to the pacifiers. Later, when Preston was born and wouldn’t take one like his big brother? PANIC! :-)

    I wanted Matt to get rid of his when he was 2ish. For the record, with daycare, sleep issues and a new little brother coming, it became a non-issue. In due time, I figured.

    A few months ago,(he just turned 4, btw) the “last” paci was lost. Oddly, he never looked back. He had a few minutes here and there where he wondered where it was, but mostly, he was just over it.

    I attempted the Paci Fairy thing too – Matt was an emotional wreck just talking about it, so I dropped it. They seem to get more addicted for a while and then suddenly, it’s not as big of a deal anymore.

    As for the lovey of my son? Well, that is another story.

    Lisa b September 6, 2007 at 9:42 pm

    I must find one of those soovys. That is hilarious.
    Poor WB.

    Sunny September 6, 2007 at 9:47 pm

    My daughter loves her Binky. She sleeps with 6 of them in the crib, in the hopes that one might still be in arms reach if she wakes up really early. I wasn’t going to give her one as per the breastfeeding advice I had gotten. But we did, and I loved the binky as much as she. I’ve thought about when we will end the binky affair, but I can’t do it. In a world that must seem huge and sometimes scary, it gives her comfort. I can’t deny her that. She carries around and sleeps with a beanie kitty, not a phallic lovey…however, I really do see the humor in it and almost wish kitty was a little bit funnier.

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