Soothers- Our Ultimate Frenemy
Updated: Oct 20, 2022
I heard this phrase recently, "the soother is our frenemy", and I had to laugh because isn't that the truth?
"a person with whom one is friendly despite a fundamental dislike or rivalry."
It helps soothe our babies when they are newborns so we as mothers don't become the soother, or so that we can have 10 seconds to shower before the baby spits it out.
It helps them fall asleep, have longer naps, get longer stretches at night, not scream their faces off on planes and long car rides (you get the picture).
But how come, there comes a point when we are waking up at night because the baby spat out the soother, and you have to zombie walk over to them to pop it back in?
Now, it becomes the frenemy.
The Canadian and American Academy of Pediatrics recommends using a soother for the first 6 months of life ( as it's considered protective against SIDS), up until about age 1.
At age 2, they say that it can cause dental problems and should be completely gone by age 4. Dental problems are difficult to fix, can cause dysfunctional breathing, recurring ear infections, and the list goes on.
I'm a believer that some newborns need a soother. I'm also a full believer that independent sleep skills are necessary for a long, long list of reasons. So let's talk about this thing, our frenemy, the soother.
As your baby approaches 6 months of age, AND they are having sleep difficulties such as:
Needing the soother to fall asleep at any point
Call out to you because their soother fell out
More frequent night wakings
Shorter naps then previously
Requiring more help them before to get them to sleep
It may be time to look at what 'sleep props' your baby may have. A sleep prop can be anything that is external that helps the baby fall asleep: feeding, being held, being rocked, soother, etc.
If the soother is one of the things that is needed to get your baby to sleep, it may be time to think about pulling it when it comes to sleep.
It may seem like no big deal to walk over and pop the soother back in, but the problem is around broken sleep. The level of arousal is greater when a baby or toddler is awake and looking for a soother, versus waking up and soothing themselves back to sleep. This causes fragmented sleep and can make for a cranky baby or toddler the next day.
So what can you do?
As your baby goes through the 4-month sleep regression (which can happen anywhere from 3.5 -5 months of age), and you are considering working on your baby's sleep, consider pulling it then.
If you're going to put the work in to make your baby's sleep the best it can be, why leave in something you have to deal with later, and can continue to perpetuate the issue?
You may think "My baby sleeps fine with a soother, I don't see the big deal", and if that's you, that's okay! Just make sure to get rid of the soother in due time so your toddler doesn't have a dependence on it.
If your baby doesn't sleep well, and you're worried about ditching the soother, don't worry, you're not alone!
Here are 3 quick things you can work on when ditching the soother for your baby:
1) Eat-play-sleep routine!
I've talked about this so much, but it's essential!
When your baby wakes up, they eat!
Then they play!
Then when it comes near the end of their awake time, and you see sleep cues, do your mini nap routine (diaper change, sleep sack, song), and to bed awake!
2) Dark Room & White noise!
If you're going to work on your baby's sleep, help them out a little and make their environment conducive to sleep. Darken their room (like a deep, dark, cave type thing), add some soothing white noise, and put them to bed alone (no toys or blankets).
3) Short naps!
Once they wake up, wait a few minutes to see if they will go back to sleep.
If your baby is under 3 months, you can pop in their room quietly, and try to shush and/or soft-touch/pat/rub them back to sleep.
Giving them a chance to go back to sleep is important, and it takes time and patience!
Still having trouble getting your baby to sleep well?
I get it.
Working on this can be challenging.
That's why I'm here
I help families just like yours get better sleep. Let's talk about how we can get your family more sleep.
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