I am a Human Pacifier

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mom nursing babyI have three boys, and each one was very different when it came to their pacifier preferences.  My first son was very PRO-pacifier. Pacifiers helped tremendously with his self-soothing skills in the first few weeks. And, truthfully, my nipples appreciated the break. He wasn’t picky about brand or shape. He would use just about any pacifier that was offered to him. He loved them so much that, when it came time for him and his “binkies” to part ways, he collected a secret stash of them that he hid in one of his toy car seats. We only came to know of this secret stash because he proudly showed a beloved babysitter his treasure trove of safely stowed away pacifiers. Not to worry though, he did eventually quit his pacifier habit.

My second son was completely different from my first son in lots of ways. He slept like a dream, ate wonderfully, and wanted nothing to do with pacifiers.  But he was a thumb-sucker – basically from birth. I have to admit that I found it completely endearing. Judah’s thumb-sucking made the newborn phase sooo much easier.  There was no frustrating night time up and downs to put the binkie back in. His thumb was always attached; whenever he needed it, there it was. It also became an alarm clock of sorts. He would start sucking his thumb when he was getting tired.  “Op! Judah is getting tired! Time for a nap.” It was amazing!

While I thought his thumb-sucking was cute and convenient for a time, it was so much harder than quitting the pacifier habit. How do you stop someone from sucking their thumb? I couldn’t just hide his thumb. Oh yeah, that’s right. It’s always attached. Hmmm… this one took a bit more thought and effort. We did get him to stop sucking his thumb (mostly) by using a bitter nail polish that is intended to help people stop biting their nails.  He would make the most twisted faces and then ask for drinks repeatedly until the awful taste wore off.  We still catch him sucking his thumb sometimes but now all we have to say is, “Thumb out or I’ll put goop on it” and he yanks the thumb out like it’s hot. He will get it… eventually.

Now, my third son is also completely different from my first two… I’m noticing a pattern here.  My third boy wanted nothing to do with pacifiers and was also not a thumb-sucker, but I could feed him anytime he needed soothing. I was his pacifier.  Needless to say, we were attached at the – well you know – for a long time.  What is interesting though is that he is now 14 months old and while I have reduced the number of feedings per day to mainly bedtimes, there are still times when I will soothe him by nursing because nothing else will do. I weaned both of his brothers when they were almost exactly a year. But this time, there is no rush. I am enjoying the snuggle time with my probably last baby. And I get sad thinking about being completely done breastfeeding.

Over the past couple of weeks, my sweet boy has been going through something.  I’m not sure if it’s just teeth or if he’s extra tired from growing, but we have spent more time than usual soothing with a nursing session. I know I probably should cut back so that he can learn some other ways to self-soothe, but at the same time I’m also dreading the loss of my last boy’s baby phase. I have given myself permission to take my time. As long as we are both enjoying our time together, there is nothing wrong with me continuing to nurse him past the one year mark. Still, the end is looming in the not-so-distant future, and I am so aware of it. But for now, until we are both ready, I’m going to be his human pacifier.

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Heather Plizga
Things Heather loves: blue skies, green grass, trees rustling in the wind. Heather is a country girl through and through. She grew up on 10 acres of rolling countryside in SE Iowa. Over their 7 years of marriage, Heather and her husband (Ted) have lived in 3 different states. But Heather grew tired of the big, grey city so, in 2013, they moved to Rochester (Ted’s hometown) for some green Minnesota living. Fast forward a few short years and she now has two bustling boys – Everett (3) and Judah (14mos). Heather also loves food. Full disclosure - she eats ice cream nightly! She is a registered dietitian and is passionate about how she feeds her family. In order to stay home with her boys, only a year ago she became a licensed family childcare provider. She feeds her daycare family with the same enthusiasm. Her goal is to provide readers with practical tools so they may also feed their families well. !

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