So this weekend I finally did it, I bit the bullet and made the long overdue decision that Luke’s soother had to go. Goodbye soother, farewell my faithful friend. Luke is now two and a half and with all the best intentions in the world, I had really never intended him to have his soother as long as he did. But as all parents of a soother loving child will know, pulling the plug is easier said than done. Olly’s arrival and timing Luke’s soother’s departure was tricky. This is mostly because the optimum time to get rid of it would have been this time last year, but pregnancy and sleep deprivation got the better of my parental judgement.
Our Soother Journey
The longer it goes on, the harder it gets and as time ticked by I noticed Luke developing this deep rooted love and attachment for ‘dodey’ which was never there as a baby. The more attached he got the more I realised it had to go, given the repercussions of long term soother use which I am more than familiar with professionally. Day in day out in work, I counsel parents on the importance of discounting soother use due to the impact it is having on speech sound production and here I was at home with an ‘addict’ of my own.
Now just to note Luke is a night time soother user only and has been since he was just over 13 months. Though I find myself in this position now with a little dread and apprehension about saying ‘goodbye soother’, I would like to point out that I am an advocate of soothers and wholeheartedly believe in them! I know, it’s a personal choice, some parents hate the look of them, some babies never take to them and some parents might fear the implications for breast feeding and are damn well scared to use them. All in all, I don’t mind the look of them, my boys took to soothers relatively quickly and I personally never had any issue with using a soother and breastfeeding, even in the very early days. My mom came from a family of thumb suckers and was always adamant about soother. She used to say to me she felt that when the time was right you could take a soother away but that a thumb would be with you for life.
So I took a spoonful of my own rational and evidence based advice and got to it. So where to start? What to do? How do you even begin to explain to a two year old that the love of his life is leaving? Well here is what I did, what happened and how we are two days post ‘dodey’ departure.
Saying ‘Goodbye Soother’ – What We Did
So about a week ago I started talking the talk. Telling Luke that his soother would be going soon and that we would be putting it in a special bag and bringing it to a man in the shop who would be giving him a big boy present instead. Luke has recently developed a ‘fear’ of the dark ( eh cheers Halloween) and so I opted to tell the man had a special big boy light for him instead of his soother. We chatted about this every day for about a week. I talked to him about the new light he was getting, and told him that the man would give his soother to a new baby who didn’t have one. In the beginning there was a bit of hesitation and rejection of this tale I was spinning but by day three he was giving me a run down of the plan.
So yesterday we got a special bag (an IKEA freezer bag if you don’t mind) and put his soother in. I got him to hold it in the buggy and we talked about the plan on our walk into town. We gave ‘Dodey’ a kiss goodbye, made the exchange with the man (the poor lad in Argos genuinely hadn’t a clue what I was at, but politely nodded and took the thing!) and then talked about the new light in the box and all about bringing it to bed.
So we did the usual routine and all was well for about 5 minutes and then he started calling me. When I went into his room he told me his soother was gone and politely asked me to go find one of Olly’s (pretty clever in fairness). I just explained to him that Olly needed his own ‘dodey’ and that he had a big boy car light that only bog boys with no soother could have. I was just firm about the message and encouraged him to go to sleep with our usual routine. About 15 minutes later (1 toilet trip, 1 tissue and a cup of water later) he finally dosed off. He slept for a half hour less than usual but that was to be expected.
So at bedtime we went through the usual routine, and after about 10 minutes he started to sob sadly about his soother and asking me for it. I’ll admit, this was hard. I just reassured him and explained that he had a big boy light now and that the man had given ‘dodey’ to another little baby like Olly who didn’t have a soother. After a few hugs and wiping a few tears, he settled and eventually drifted off. All in all I think his sleep seemed a little more broken in that he woke a few times and needed some encouragement to go back to sleep but nothing too awful.
So I’ll be honest, I thought we were in for a rough ride and that this whole weaning process would take a week or so. I kid you not, he didn’t even ask for it today. I think he has just accepted it and it’s taking him a little longer to get to sleep, as in talking away to himself up in his room for about 15 minutes before drifting off. To be honest, if I had thought it was going to go this smoothly I probably would have done it sooner, but on the other hand maybe this was the right time and his level of rational thinking and understanding made the whole transition a little less painful. Either way I am here and I have survived and we now have a little boy asleep in his big boy bed with no soother and it makes me both proud and sad that he is no longer a baby.
Looking for some facts and recommendation for soother use? Click here to read advice from a speech and language therapist about soother and bottle use.