There is a small window around one year old when most children are ready to give up there soother. We missed it or didn’t care enough about it at the time. Recently, Jon and I decided that this would now be a good time for Livi to give it up. We have been talking with Livi for weeks now about giving up her soother to the Fairy to give to the babies. She was on board with the idea and even excited about it. I came up with the idea, inspired from her ‘Olivia Acts Out’ book, to send her soothers “up, UP, UP to the moon!” to the Soother Fairy to give to the other babies. When she made it through the night soother free the Fairy left a present. In Livi’s case it was a baby doll with her own toy soother… we were hoping to reinforce the idea that soothers were for babies.
The first night was hell. She cried on and off for 2.5 hours! 15 minutes of crying, 30 minutes of play… the hours went on like this. She eventually wore herself out and fell asleep. I think she woke up once that night, but I can’t be sure. It’s all been a blur.
Surprisingly, Livi has only asked for her soother once the first night. She understood that it was gone but does not seem to have the tools to put herself to sleep with out it. We have tried EVERYTHING we could think of and even researched for new ideas on the internet! We extended her night time wind down routine, introduced a bottle for before naps, put towels on her window to keep her room darker, rocked her like I did when she was a baby, tried sleeping with her, tried to show her other things to suck on (thumbs, fingers, blanket, fuzzy), tried to teach her to rock herself in bed, tried white noise, let her cry it out, jumped to coddle her at the first whimper, gave her lots of praise for sleeping soundly, etc… NOTHING worked.
Yesterday was day five of little too no sleep for all of us. Livi was barely coping, not listening well, hyper and grumpy at the same time, not sleeping and I was officially sick with the flu. Sleep deprivation did not help my immune system. Livi wasn’t not napping because she was ready to give up her nap, she didn’t know how to put herself to sleep without the a soother. She needs sleeps for her health and development. I needed a nap. I needed my sanity! After one and half hours of Livi not napping yesterday, I was defeated. Livi had won. The Soother War of 2010 was over. I gave her a soother. She slept for 2 hours. I slept for 2 hours. I feel like a bit of a failure but we all needed our sleep. I had already discussed the possibility with Jon after he had been up with her for nearly an hour the night before. He almost gave it to her then 🙂
We gave it our best shot but realized she was not yet ready to be soother free. We are instilling more stringent rules around it now though… in hopes of maybe weaning her off of it instead of the cold turkey approach. She is only allowed to have it in her bed when she is sleeping. We already had a nap and night time rule but would let her have it during morning cartoons and evening wind down time sometimes. No more! Only in bed!
Am I being to harsh on Livi and myself? I think this soother thing is bothering me more than normal because all the literature says 2yrs is about the cut off time. She should be ready. Livi has always been on par or ahead of the literature. I know I sound like a total controlling mother/stuck-up cow but when you have a child as easy as Livi has always been, it is hard not to expect every parenting step to be just as easy. She is going to be a horrid teenager just because I said that, isn’t she?
I think the other issue going on here is my own. Realizing it has made me more okay with letting her have her soother back. I sucked my thumb until I was almost 11years old. I was very self-conscience and, I’m sure, teased about it. My mom tried EVERYTHING to get me to give it up. It turned out that leaving my birth father did the trick 🙂 It was a coping mechanism for me that went on for longer than was normal. I need to remember that Livi doesn’t have the need for that coping mechanism…. this is just a developmental phase that she is not ready to give up yet. I need to step back and watch her for when she is ready, not tell her when she should be ready.