Parenting evils we have wrought #335: the dummy

So we’re doing the combination feed with Beef already – evil! We let J-Box watch at least an hour of TV every day and often use it just to get him out of Beef’s grill for a while – double evil! And now we find ourselves giving the otherwise-inconsolable Beef a dummy – triple axle of evil!!!

In our parental defence, it is a very cute and amusing dummy. Unless – wait! Does that make it more evil? Dressing up our fresh little Beef like some kind of SuperMario circus freak in order to harvest a ROFLquake of cheap Instagram lols and Facebook smilies with hearts for eyes?! I knew I should worn my hair pyjamas and barbed wire night socks yesterday. But I’ve got to keep on racking up parenting points in the great gamification of life that Charlie Brooker told me about, and if that means posting cute little pictures of my Pokemon’s future orthodontic nightmare, then so be it. 

Seriously though, it is something that we weren’t that keen on doing, giving Beef a dummy. J-Gob showed virtually no interest in dummies at all, spitting them out within moments, but then he wasn’t too great at suckling* either. Beef is a more dedicated feeder, so there was always a chance once it went in, it would stay in. But it still felt like Bad Parenting: one of those things lazy parents do, the ones that don’t truly love their children and are happy for their nipples to be ground into a neuralgic paste.

However, since we broke out a dummy for Beef yesterday, she has been much happier. In the last few days, despite being well fed, she was beginning to spend more and more of her awake time being stressed, especially in the afternoons and evenings. At first, we figured it was simply that she was hungry, and so we fed her boob and bottle until she seemed happy; the only problem was that she would then sick up huge spools of undigested milk. It didn’t distress her too much, but we became paranoid about how much we could give her and a bit confused about whether she was hungry or not. Was it colic? Was she just stressed at the end of the day? Was it just a growth spurt or the six-week stress peak as they get overstimulated by all the exciting things they start to notice? 

As J-Sprog had never bothered with his dummy, we didn’t even think of it at first. We still had one he was given as a present all wrapped up stuffed away in a cupboard. It’s funny how questions that are huge burning issues for one family barely occur to another. Once it was popped in, though, she became so much more relaxed.

I’m not sure why it is sucking is supposed to help babies feel better; I’d find it easier to understand if she was hungry or in pain. The nearest I can get to an answer at the moment is that they simply panic when they are doing anything and sucking is the most instinctive thing (other than crying, maybe) they can do. There is an increased risk of ear infections as a result of sucking dummies – all that lovely bacterial juice sluicing around the Eustachian canals – but all the teeth and speech problems seem to be problems for older kids, six months and later.

I suppose I was concerned that it was a kind of silencing, neglecting what the baby is trying to tell us. But the baby doesn’t know what it’s trying to tell us; it just wants comfort. And if they get comfort, then are we really being evil parents after all?

Perhaps… Mwah ha ha ha ha! Mwah ha ha ha ha!
* Is that a correct term ‘suckling’? Or is that what the milk-donor does? Just fancied using a colourful word.

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