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Saturday, August 20, 2011

Success for Suckers

Since just a few days after her birth my 4 month old and I have relied on a pacifier to give us both a little rest throughout the day. In the beginning I tried to deny her, holding on to some notion that pacis were no good. I figured ridding her of the habit would be very difficult and prolonged use might even lead to dental problems. I pictured my baby as a three year old with bucked teeth and a pacifier clip on her preschool uniform. My son never took one, but 4 years later Morenikke continues to prove that she is a totally different baby. Deeper still though I think I was holding on to the idea that babies who used pacifiers somehow reflected poorly on their Moms; parents who took the easy way out instead of the time to satisfy their kid's needs. What I have since learned is that parenting is hard enough, we deserve an easy answer sometime!

It quickly became clear that Ms. Lady just had to have her binky! We collected a bunch and determined which were her favorites (usually not the cute, blinged out ones). Then at about 5 weeks old she figured out how to pull that teeny tiny thumb to her lips! As weeks passed the pacifier was out and the thumb was in! I was outdone, and immediately added orthodontic visits to our budget about 12 years down the road. Though it was cute, all I could think was ... This Is Not Good. I thought she might tire of it, but she only got more innovative. It seems she can't decide which tastes better - a slobbery thumb or two to three succulent fingers! She's even learned how to grasp her favorite blanket or bunny lovie in her palm while suckling her little digits. You know she means business when she curls her index finger tightly around her nose ... no going back now.

For the past several weeks we've been trying to establish a sleep schedule and honestly it's been going pretty well. Recently as I stood over her crib in the wee hours of the morning, I was struck by a new idea. Maybe her thumb-sucking isn't so bad after all. I can put her down drowsy and after a couple of minutes of squirming and grunting she grabs her blankie, pops that thumb in her mouth and drifts off to sleep. Two words. Self-Soothe. We're familiar with the concept, but it requires you give your kid time for figure out what's wrong and comfort herself. If you're like me you might be a little anxious to jump and fix things. I've realized Nikke's thumb-sucking demonstrates that she can cope. Her little neurons are firing away, teaching her that she can overcome minor discomfort or annoyances on her own - without a major meltdown (well, not every time at least) I may be taking this a little far, but isn't that a pretty big life lesson? She doesn't always have to wait for someone else to make things OK. Now I look at her sucking her thumb (or fingers) and think, "Wow, I've got a pretty capable girl on my hands here."