Thursday, October 7, 2010

Surviving the Pinky vs. Binky War

Max will turn five months old tomorrow. How crazy! While the day that we stood in the delivery room in our scrubs, anxiously waiting to hear Max’s first cry, seems like eons ago, on the other hand I can’t believe how quickly the subsequent months whizzed by, or that Max is no longer a newborn. The kid is now rolling over on his own, starting to eat solid foods, laughing, and teething as his first little tooth broke through last week.

I didn’t come into this parenthood gig with too many preconceived notions. However, when I do look back upon these first five months, there have definitely been some surprises. For instance, I didn’t think Max would weigh 19.5 pounds and measure in at 27 inches tall at just 4 months old. Neither myself nor Max’s biological mother are big or tall people. But somehow Max is already big enough to fit into some clothes marked 18-months! I also knew that spit-up was part of the parenting deal, but I didn’t think my adorable, loving child would decide to yak on me multiple times a day, every day! The only one happy about that is our dry-cleaner, and whenever the two of them share smiles together I get very suspicious and dive for the burp cloth! Hopefully since we have started Max on some solid foods the spit up will tamper down. Hopefully.

I have to come clean on one element of parenting that worked out differently than I envisioned it would. I had this grandiose notion that Stewart and I would not use a pacifier with Max, and I was actually pretty loud and proud about this stance for the good month and a half that it lasted. I thought that sticking a well washed pinkie in his crying mouth was a more organic approach to the pacifier. For example, I would go to the local Key Food grocery store in my neighborhood and leave horrified after seeing a three year old who was half my height but still sucking on a binky. I was scared that the pacifier would become a crutch for me and an easy way to shut Max up without having to actually engage with him, as you have to do if you are using your pinky. As the venerable pediatrician Dr. Sears states in his seminal The Baby Book, “Pacifiers are meant to satisfy intense sucking needs, not to delay or replace nurturing.”

I also didn’t want to use pacifiers for purely vanity reasons. I didn’t want all of Max’s early baby photos to have a large piece of plastic sticking out from his face. Now if he had turned out to be an ugly baby -- which was nigh impossible if you’ve seen Christie’s other offspring -- maybe I would have preferred a huge binky to cover up his face (I kid!) But of course he was, and is, adorable, so I tried to stay binky-free. And, it turns out, I apparently succeeded because after a search of all our photos, I couldn’t find a single photo with Max sucking on a pacifier to use with this post (annoyingly).

But my policy soon ended. For while during the first month and a half our pinkies seemed to do the trick when Max got fussy, for some reason they stopped working their magic. Soon after, our baby guru, Gloria, came into our lives. She is Max’s babysitter who relieves me some weekday mornings. She asked us to provide her with some binkies, and whatever she says goes! When she started using them she was getting results that our pinkies weren’t, so we reluctantly gave in and soon enjoyed the calm, quiet results out of Max. What wasn’t so enjoyable though was when friends and family members would say, often with a playful smirk on their faces, “Ah! I see you are now using a pacifier, when did this happen?” I had to admit to them that pacifiers indeed have their time and place after all (though not forever!)

A lot of parenting, I’m realizing, is about trial and error and lessons learned. If I’m not willing to eat a little crow once in a while about how my pre-conceived notions on raising a child aren’t always perfect, and change accordingly, I’m not being the best dad I can be. And Max deserves nothing less than my best.


  1. Yes, Pacifiers can be a lifesaver. And we were worried it would become a crutch for Lily too, but one day, out of no where she just decided she was done with them around 6 months old. We were happy we wouldnt have to ween her off them later but sad the quick fix was gone - mixed blessing.

    oh and she is 14 months now.

  2. Six months seems to be the age that the books say to start weening them off. We will see what happens.

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