Monday, January 30, 2006

On Demand Nursing and the Pacifier

"On Demand" Nursing and the Pacifier: Which One Am I?

Nuvy is now about a month old and we are, right on schedule, experiencing "periods of fussiness" which I would characterize as the clean, recently fed child screaming her fool head off for God knows what reason. Now there are many professional and lay opinions in the comfort/cry-it-out debate, and I am trying very very hard to avoid what I think is a poor compromise: cry it out until I can't take it anymore, then I'll pick you up.

If you don't have kids, let me tell you. This is way harder than you think. If you do, well, then you know what I'm talking about.

They say that, by now, I should be able to distinguish the wet cry from the hungry cry from the just-a-little-whiny cry. Of course, in the course of a cry-it-out, it always comes down to the hungry cry. She may be young, but she's not stupid. She knows what cry will get me to pick her up, even if the clock tells me she can't possibly be hungry, she wets and soils 15 diapers a day, and her little thighs are so fat and dimply I could just eat them up.

So when should I feed her? The AAP breastfeeding manual answers "as often as she's willing." Ok. Are you kidding? I have never seen this child turn down a lunch ticket. She will nurse until she's literally overflowing--not swallowing the last mouthful, but letting it run down her cheek, still hanging on. The AAP further states that "sucking is comforting to infants, and they may require more sucking time than feeding time unless you are strongly opposed to pacifiers, offer your child one."

Well, guess what?

I'm strongly opposed to pacifiers. They're gross, they get dropped, lost, you eventually have to take them away, and they say "Put a sock in it!" very clearly not only to the child, but to everyone else you meet. Everyone tells me that this is "so first-time-mommy", which may be true, but I maintain. I can hang on until she finds her thumb. I swear I can.

Of course, I have a bag in the closet full of brand-new binkies, sort of like an emergency carton of cigarettes after you quit smoking, you know, just in case I turn out to be spineless. But I digress.

So if I choose to quiet the baby by nursing "whenever she's willing", have I made myself a human pacifier? Am I saying "put a sock in it" just as clearly as if I popped a binky in her mouth, and if so, why fight it? Alternatively, can she really be this hungry? Does she have worms or is she playing me for a chump? Am I really "honoring her feelings" by letting her scream?

Follow the child. Follow the child.

It seems like following the newborn child is a little like following the ghost of christmas future. It doesn't say anything intelligible, just makes funny noises and mysterious gestures.


Amy said...

I hear you on the "noonie" sister. My plans with MS & HIP were: NO NOONIES. Look where that got me. I had a NICU staff telling me I was being selfish and to give the kids pacifiers because that was what they " needed." Ohh I was so young and naive. like Nuvy, Tiny Parker will be getting a teet in his/her mouth every time it makes a noise that is unpleasurable to human ears. I will gladly be a " noonie" just so I don't have to drive to that stupid Wal-Mart... ignore my boycott and buy pacifiers at 3 in the morning. Fight the power. I'll ride that wave with you.

Oh and I love that I'm the only one responding to your blog. I swear I have other things to do with my life!

testdriver said...

Ha ha! You may well be the only one reading it!


Amy said...

I could easily fix that. I'll get you linked up to Mama C-ta's blog.. you'll have 899 responses a day!

Auntie Shoogs said...

I imagine that a boob is probably tastier than a rubber binky, however, I don't remember my own experiences with either one.

testdriver said...

Mom said we never had binkies, and barely had boob. Maybe it's hereditary.

Auntie Shoogs said...

well, I know for a fact that I had a thumb... or was it an elbow?

Either way, it helped me gain a lovely set of bucked teeth.

Mr. Noodles Panini said...

Buck teeth and a nice rack! xoxoxo

BlogWhore said...

Old post, I know. I just posted about Nuk Propaganda. Different posts for different folks, huh?

I like the different perspective.

You daughter is beautiful.

Rachel said...

so this is exactly my delima...i was the human pacifier with my son and was just discussing if we should try them with our 4 week old. i told my husband i felt like a selfish mommy giving in to convenience just thinking about it. my son has perfect teeth and we didn't have to fight to break him free of a paci...on the other hand my aunt says it took her 10 years to break her daughter of the thumb, and that you could at least take the paci away. so what to do??????? my daughter seems to need to pacify here and there and does okay with my finger or her own fist, but she is not cutting teeth yet. to bad there is no instruction list or that these babies can't talk.

Testdriver said...


Old post but a goodie!

I do not really go in for the whole worrying thing about thumbsucking/pacifiers ruining your kids' teeth. My husband sucked his thumb for 10 years and has great teeth. I sucked my thumb for a couple or three years and wore braces for four years. I think it is what it is, and there are a lot of factors that affect orthodontics. My dentist even said that mouth breathing could affect tooth alignment.

Anyway, the Montessori idea is that the thumb is better than the pacifier for exactly the reasons people worry about it--that it belongs to the child, and you can't take it away. It's empowering, in a way, to know that, even if you're 15 years old, nobody can stop you from sucking your thumb.

Anonymous said...

I know this is an old post, but I wanted to say, it IS possible for the baby to be that hungry all the time. :)

Think about it, baby's growing more now than she ever will again. Now, I don't know if you had the joy that I did of living with 5 teenaged boys, but let me tell you they ate CONSTANTLY and were rail thin, and they weren't growing as fast as your baby at one month old.

She's probably pretty constantly hungry. Sticking your boob in her face is a pretty good way of dealing with that. Pacifiers are in some ways the diet colas or low-calorie beers of the baby world. No substance!

Allyson said...

In the same situation!! I am about to have my second and I REALLY want nursing to last longer than a few months with her. I read a whole bunch of articles about no introducing a pacifier for a month if at all. My first little was 7 weeks early. I tired to nurse although it lasted a short time but she got rid of her binky on her own VERY early. Yes, she found her thumb and at 5 still sucks her thumb. I also did until I was 12. I think the whole experience is personal to your child and you can't tell until you try it. I wish babies were more predictable!!

Charissa said...

Man oh man can I relate to this blog. My daughter is 11 months now but in her first 6 months she was just like what you described. Especially in her first 3 months. My husband & I were united to avoid soothers, noonies, binky's, pacifiers or at least to use them as a last measure. We got to that last measure point when I got thrush & she was showing all the same signs you mentioned in your blog (plump, 98th percentile, constantly eating...). Every time we gave her a soother though she rejected it! She was bent on the breast. Nursing became very hard work for me. Now that she's teething her molars in she occasionally chews on a soother but that's it. I finally had to stop nursing her to sleep, it was causing sleep problems for her, to my surprise. Talk about don't follow a child. Our pediatrician specializes in integrative medicine & is a mother of 2 grown kids so I really trusted her telling me to stop doing that when Eva was around 6 months old. Kind of glad to not be the only one but also sorry to read that your experience was confusing too.