PK has been using a soother since a few days after she was born. The fact that she took a soother was a relief to us because prior to that, the only thing she would take was an index finger in the mouth, fingerprint side touching the roof of her mouth. Breast-feeding issues aside, I wasn't about to use the boob as a soother every time she freaked out. My boobs were already getting attacked enough times without the extra use of pacifier. I know several moms who did the boob-as-soother gig, but that's just a matter of personal choice.
Overall, the soother has been good to us. It kept PK happy when she started getting cranky, ESPECIALLY after getting her regularly-scheduled shots. It was also great for helping her fall asleep and stay asleep. Though PK is a good sleeper, she does on occasion wake up startled at night. This was often remedied by running up to her room and re-soothering her. It worked like a charm. One second, she'd be wide awake, and the next, she'd be out cold. Natural sleeping pill.
Although we are grateful for what the soother has done for us, we always knew that its tenure would eventually have to come to an end, somewhere around the 18-month mark. I've seen what appear to be 4- or 5-year-olds using soothers, and at that age, it just begins to look pretty ridiculous. I don't want PK to be one of those kids. And so began Project Soother Detox. Why Soother Detox, you ask? Well, as far as I'm concerned, the soother might as well be a drug. Here's why:
1. PK gets frantic when she wants it but can't have it
2. As soon as she has it, she calms right down
3. She takes "drags" of her soother in-between sips of her milk before bed
4. The soother helps her get back to sleep if she wakes up in the middle of the night
Project Soother Detox began a week or so before PK turned 18 months old. While I talked and talked about getting rid of the soother, I must give credit to the hubby as the Grand Instigator of Project Soother Detox. It began with the nighttime routine. PK would ALWAYS cry for her soother just as soon as we got her out of the bath, and we would obligingly give it to her. One day, the hubby decided to hold off on giving her the soother until after diapering and moisturizing her. She was NOT happy, but then again, Soother Detox isn't supposed to be fun, either. Over the ensuing weeks, the hubby and I upped the ante by further delaying when PK getS her soother, or her "shoo-shoo", as she calls it. (As an aside, "shoo-shoo" is either her attempt at saying "soo-soo", which is what they call it at daycare, or her attempt at imitating me when I say "chupeta", or soother in Portuguese, which I shortened to "shoo-shoo". At any rate, it is freaking cute when she says it, and it *almost* makes me cave in to her demands.) As it stands right now, PK can pretty much go without her soother until we put her into the crib. She basically knows that if she asks for her "shoo-shoo" at that point, we will give it to her, since it is the appropriate time.
Project Soother Detox has also been implemented as part of the walk home from daycare. Back in the day, PK expected that I would give her the soother as soon as she sat in the stroller. In fact she demanded it (read: meltdown at daycare). As with the Pre-Bedtime Soother Detox, the Post-Daycare Soother Detox began gradually. First, I would wait until just before we went out the building's doors to give her the soother. Then I waited until 10 minutes into our walk. Then 20 minutes. One day, I ran into my sis on the way home and we stayed chatting for a good 10 minutes and PK didn't even ask for her soother. She protested when we started walking again, but I decided to wait until my usual intersection to give her the soother. By the time we got to the "soother stop", PK was sound asleep, sans soother! That day, we made it home with no soother. This was HUGE progress, and it had set a precedent. There was no turning back. No more soother on the way home from daycare.
Last week, we took Project Soother Detox up a notch by removing PK's soother right after she falls asleep, and putting it on her dresser (as opposed to leaving it on the bed beside her). I was pleased when, on my first attempt at having a sootherless sleep, PK actually slept through the night without waking up and needing her soother. She stirred a bit, but settled back down sans soother. This continued on for 2 more nights. Unfortunately, our winning streak came to an end when two nights ago, the hubby had to go upstairs to give her her soother (read: we need our sleep). Still, we persevere by removing the soother right after she falls asleep each night. Might as well get into the habit.
PK is still not completely sold on this sootherless existence, but she is spending less and less time without it. I always have it on-hand when we go out, but I never have to use it. This means that aside from naptime and sleep time, PK is almost rid of her baby drugs. The major hurdle that I have to work on right now is in convincing my mom to stop giving PK the stoother. She looks after PK one day a week, and invariably spoils PK with the soother during that time. My mom is convinced that I am being an Evil Mother for taking PK's soother away, by taking away something that she loves. She tries to guilt-trip me into giving PK her soother, making it out like PK is suffering for not having her beloved soother. Fortunately for me, not only am I immune to PK's cries, I am also immune to my mother's nagging. (Shhhh...don't tell her I said that!) Well, this only means one thing: I will have to hide all of the soothers in the house next time my mom is over. I'm sure that'll go over super-well.
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