The Gift of the Dummy


My son is making a liar out of me.

I’d confessed that behind my polite happy face (the one I’d use with customers at work; the one that smiles and would say ‘I’m fine, thanks’, even if a jet engine fell on my house), I really wasn’t coping with this baby, at all.

So when a couple of babysitting offers came in — a chance for Husband and I to get out the house for an hour or so — we jumped at the chance…and expected to find a babysitter-shaped hole in one of the outer walls of our house, on our return. Surely they wouldn’t be so keen to reprise their offer, after having experienced our miniature Hulk, once.

Yet on both occasions (two different babysitters), our boy was apparently ‘delightful’, ‘an angel’, and similar descriptors. Either they were looking after a different baby, or Timmy has the deceptive skill of subterfuge, with used car sales in his future. Either way, after my complaints about life with Timmy, I’m looking like a liar to these babysitters!

The amazing help of supportive friends has gone beyond babysitting offers, and home-cooked meal deliveries — they’ve also imparted nuggets of wisdom regarding Timmy’s care, to make things more manageable.

I’d always been on the anti-dummy team. Having seen detrimental effects on a habitual thumb-sucker, I presumed similar things would happen with the use of a dummy. I thought Timmy’s teeth would buck out, and once his dummy-sucking habit was formed, it would be near-impossible to break. So it was that, to avoid this, I was subjecting myself to hours of screeches, like nails dragged across the chalkboard of my brain.

Then I spoke with a friend (who was very careful to not force the idea on me, but only shared her experiences) who told me that a dentist had alleviated those concerns — there would be no effect on teeth at all, the dentist had said, so long as the child’s permanent teeth have yet to come in, and that doesn’t happen until about age 6. By which time, I’d certainly hope a dummy would be a thing of the distant past!

And as far as dummy-addiction goes, apparently there is a stage where, after a time, the child naturally will lose interest. This theory was further supported by another contact who worked in postnatal support. It’s only if the parent pushes the use of the dummy beyond this point (usually because it’s the easy way to buy silence), that detrimental habit is formed, which will bring difficulties later. A dummy-sucking habit is also reported to be much easier to break than a thumb-sucking habit. (You can’t confiscate a child’s thumb, after all.)

But for now, in these initial weeks of New Baby, a dummy has been indispensable. It has cut crying time down hugely. I’d thought Timmy just had an insatiable appetite, as he seemed to want to snack-feed every hour. Getting up eight times a night undoubtedly contributed to my rapid decline. But what I mistook as signals of hunger, were often just his instinctive desire to suck something, for comfort. This explains why his hourly feeds rarely lasted long each time — he wasn’t hungry. Now he dines at normal intervals, which allows me a bit of sleep, and during the day the dummy helps out in between.

I now await the invention of the Heat-Seeking Dummy. Whenever this device falls from Timmy’s mouth, it will levitate itself back in.



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