Dummies and Pacifiers
To my American friends. I use the English word ‘Dummy’ but am talking about Pacifiers!
What on earth is going on? Harper Beckham is spotted with a dummy again, at 4yrs old and the whole world has an opinion. Well, as most of the world has waded in, it would only be natural for me to join the fun.
I was one of those. Dummy snobs. Middle class children didn’t have dummies and if they did, they certainly didn’t have them in public. That was me, the nanny and maternity nanny, adopting the snobbery of some of my employers.
MY child wasn’t going to have a dummy. MY child would be taught to self soothe. MY child wouldn’t need one.
Then I had MY child. My gorgeous little boy that cluster fed for up to 7hrs on an evening. My gorgeous little baby that was not happy to be put down, that cried when laid down and always needed to suck.
I had a dummy in the house as it came with the microwave steamer as part of a set. One night, after hours of breastfeeding, of pain and wincing and curling of toes and tears from us both, at 2am I boiled that little sucker. I put it in his mouth He spat it out. I put it back in. Repeatedly. He spat it out. Repeatedly. The next day, I bought a different brand. He loved it. Although he could still not be laid flat, he would let me put him down. He gave my sore body a rest.
My little baby is now 3.5yrs old and he still uses a dummy. Do I care? No I do not. The rule is no dummies outside of the house and only when resting or in bed. No walking around with a dummy in his mouth and absolutely no talking with it in his mouth. I know how bad they can be for speech – not allowing the lips to close and the tongue to move into the correct position to form certain letters.
So why haven’t we had a ‘give the dummies to babies that need them’ ceremony or thrown them away in return for a big boy gift, or as some would, just taken them away and told him that’s that?
Well, it turns out that my baby was born with a condition that means he has severe silent reflux which is agony. That’s why he wouldn’t lie flat – the acid came up and burnt his tiny throat. That’s why he wanted to feed and suck constantly – to have a flow of milk or saliva to try and soothe the pain. I knew he had it the day he was born (only because I’ve looked after a few babies with silent reflux) but it took about 3 or 4 weeks to get him diagnosed and then a little longer to get the correct treatment.
Even then, guess what? My poor little boy has quite a few Ear Nose and Throat issues. By the age of 2yrs old, he had completed more than 22 courses of antibiotics for almost constant ear infections and tonsillitis. He needed to suck to help him with that pain. His throat or his ears were always hurting. A week after his second birthday, he had gromits put into each ear, his tonsils and adenoids taken out and his voice box cut to widen it. He needed his dummy to help him get through the incredible pain of the operation and the emotional upheaval.
Why did they cut his voice box? That would be to try and do something about the chronic croup that he suffered and still suffers from often. He spent the first couple of years sleeping in my arms to either stop acid reflux, to try and improve the terrifying croup that he has needed steroids for or to deal with the constant cough that he had due to all of his ENT issues. He takes medicine daily for that and a prescribed nasal spray every morning. On top of the reflux meds that he still takes twice daily.
So. He’s now a ‘big’ boy. Occasionally, when his croup or cough are so bad that he can hardly breathe, let alone speak without ending up in a massive coughing spasm that lasts 3 or 4 minutes at a time and can see him vomit, he does go out with a dummy. Without it, I find myself panicking enough to want to take him to be checked over. Goodness knows how he feels. It’s a rare occasion but I imagine that people will look at him and judge both of us. They probably think that I’m lazy and that my son is a babyish brat that won’t let it go.
This was an awful rash that saw him admitted to hospital for tests due to his symptoms and because no one could diagnose him.
I truly do not care what anyone thinks and I invite anyone to have a go at me for allowing my son to still have a dummy. I have considered and broached the subject of letting his dummy’s go but he has just started sleeping at his Daddy and girlfriends house. That is massive for a young child. Why on earth would I take the one thing that comforts and calms him and helps him get into the sleepy zone during a transition like that? My little boy has been through so much in his short life. A trip in an ambulance, four admissions and countless midnight trips for antibiotics. He’s seen me be taken away in an ambulance twice and has had to cope with me being admitted for up to a week on two occasions. I truly believe that his dummy helped him to cope with all that and keep his as calm as possible.
Even the puppy is obsessed.
Then Harper Beckham. I saw on Instagram the David Beckham said something about how you do whatever you need to do when a child is unwell or has a fever which I imagine she had. However despite this, she is a 4yr old girl who gets shouted at wherever she goes. Every time she is in public she will have hordes of men with big black camera’s and flashes, walking in front of her, shouting her parents and sibling’s names, maybe even hers and chasing them. Whether it’s all she’s known or not, that has to be terrifying. I would do anything to help my child feel as safe as possible and help them deal with a situation like that and I applaud the Beckham’s for not giving a stuff about public opinion and putting their daughter first.
I or my son will decide when he gives up his dummy. If that’s soon or not, I frankly don’t care. I know children that have had dummies and have no issues with their teeth as teenagers and children that never had a dummy or sucked their fingers, need braces.
My son has many credible reasons why he still needs his dummy and why he is so attached to it. Maybe the children on the street that you see, do too. Maybe their family has just broken up or they’ve moved house, or they are in pain or suffer from anxiety. Unless a dummy or pacifier is used constantly to shut a child up or it is causing a speech delay, maybe we should just let people be. Maybe we could mind our own business and support each other as parents doing our best.