Banishing Bad Baby Behaviors

Well, we did it. We quit the pacifier with one kid and “cried it out” with the other. When I wrote “Who Needs Sleep?” I said we’d combine these ordeals into one short period of pure hell. I got a lot of “Yeah, good luck with that,” from other parents. And I really can’t believe it myself, but it worked.

When I discussed the pacifier issue on the blog last year, a friend told me to try this method: Give the pacifier anytime she wants, just cut it smaller every day. Well, we had already restricted the pacifier to bed time, but I cut off the top, making a big hole in it, and Rose said she didn’t like it anymore. The first day!! She kept telling me to throw it out and I kept giving it back, because this was too good to be true. As I left her room, I thought for certain she’d be calling me back, whining “I waaant a paaaaci…please?” But no such request was forthcoming.

The next day, I figured she’d look for the paci as soon as she awoke, but she just sat on the couch and asked for breakfast. At nap time, I brought the rejected paci to her bed. Again she told me to throw it out. Then she refused to take a nap. It made sense that there would be consequences to quitting the paci cold turkey. She stayed in her room during nap time and I sucked it up.

That was Monday. She’s missed one more nap since, but I think it was more about not having burned her energy than not having the pacifier.

On Tuesday, I was holding Christian as he fought sleep. Whining, wriggling, watching and wheedling, he was beginning to get on my nerves. I’d made the commitment to let him cry it out, so I tried it. I heard him cry for less than five minutes and then silence. It was so quick I had to check to make sure he was still breathing. When I did, there was my baby boy, peacefully sleeping in his crib.

This is too easy, I thought. Rose cried for at least an hour when we did this with her, how could Christian be so quick? I couldn’t wait for his next nap to try it again. Next nap, same thing. Less than five minutes. Still breathing. How was this possible?

Ok, so now that I’ve met two major parenting goals, I figure I can blow off any parental ambition for at least a few months. But this whole process has taught me something. I could have done this months ago and reduced my stress, not to mention Rose’s need for braces. I treated the whole thing like vacuuming. I will put off vacuuming for weeks. My carpet will fill with popcorn, raisins, Play-doh, and still, I cannot motivate to vacuum. If by some miracle, I do get the motivation, vacuuming’s done in five minutes. So I’ve spent so much time putting off something I could have done in five minutes. I do the same thing with sewing. Rose’s Hawaiian dress lost a strap months ago and it’s still sitting in my sewing pile. I even bought that glue that’s supposed to replace stitches. How long could it possibly take to glue fabric together? Still, it languishes in the pile.

So I guess I’ve learned that I expend more energy avoiding things than I would if I actually did them. I’m going to check out my sewing as soon as I’m done writing. But I doubt I’ll vacuum anytime soon.