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Baby’s signals

Your child will let you know when he is ready to be weaned off the pacifier.

MY son is 10 months old and has been a good baby until recently. When he was three weeks old, I introduced him to the pacifier at bedtime. The pacifier would drop off after he fell asleep and I would keep it for the rest of the night. He did not need the pacifier for his afternoon naps.

Around three-and-a-half months, I started substituting his midnight feed with a pacifier. I also made it a habit to offer him the pacifier whenever he moves or fusses in bed.

Now I am tired and want to wean him off the pacifier. When I first started, he would wake up in the middle of the night and cry for me to carry him. I would do that for a while and then put him down to sleep. Sometimes this works, but most of the time, he refuses and insists that I rock him to sleep. He would wake up frequently in the night and expect to be carried.

Before I started weaning my son off his pacifier, he fell sick for two weeks. He was down with a fever and became very cranky. He has since developed the habit of wanting me nearby when he sleeps.

I am very concerned about this behaviour. How can I rectify this situation and yet wean him off his pacifier? My babysitter has advised me against weaning.

I have very high expectations. I always expect to train my child the right way from an early age. Please help. – Anxious mother

At 10 months, your son is developing many skills and gaining greater awareness of the world around him. As he acquires more skills, he will also develop feelings of insecurity. He will not be able to cope when there are changes in his routine and practices.

Your babysitter is right about not starting the weaning process too early. She may realise that changes in the routine can greatly upset your son’s sense of equilibrium during both the day and night.

Babies suck on either their thumb or the pacifier. They feel soothed when they do so. Some babies need to suck on something more than others.

For many children, it is natural to be weaned off the pacifier when they feel secure and loved.

If you want that to happen with your son, you must be prepared to offer him a more desirable substitute.

Instead of getting comfort from the pacifier during the night, you will have to carry him to comfort him and offer him the feeling of security. When there is a change in your child’s routine, he will need to seek his comfort from his caregiver.

The pacifier is really a temporary comfort for babies. It does not replace parents. When your baby is sick and feeling unsure, he needs picking up and holding. Putting the pacifier in his mouth will not satisfy his need for your nurturing. When you pick him up when he cries for you, you offer him greater comfort. Once he is reassured, he will cry less.

You may want to comfort him while he is in bed rather than pick him up all the time. Try singing softly to him or placing your hand gently on him. As time goes by, he may find it easier to fall asleep once he hears you call out to him. You may not have to pick him up at all but just be there when he needs you.

It is good that you have high expectations of parenting. But your expectations have to be based on your child’s needs and development. Observe your child carefully before you implement any new practice.

Your infant son is learning trust and building a bond with you as a caregiver and parent. It will be easier for both parent and child when the child’s needs are met.

An important part of parenting is to respond to your baby’s signals correctly. When you pay attention to his expressions and actions, you will be able to be more helpful. This way, he will learn to handle stressful situations better. Responding to your baby’s signals appropriately will show him how to interact with others in a positive manner.

The better you respond to your baby, the more he will be able to tell you what he needs and what he does not want. He will feel encouraged by your positive responses and reward you with more smiles than cries.


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