In further proof that I am completely unable to figure out my baby, this weekend we solved Luke with ... a pacifier.
“What? A pacifier? What is this guy, stupid?”
Yes. And no. And yes.
If you run into me out in the community and ask me how things are at home with my baby, my usual response is “He’s good, most of the time.” I don’t sugar coat stuff. I’m not one of those parents who is like “Oh, isn’t having a baby just so wonderful? Aren’t they just the sweetest little bundle of joy?”
No, no they’re not. They smell and barf up formula and they like to whine and cry and flop around for reasons that they’re unable to communicate to you.
More than once, I’ve picked Luke up and looked him in the eye when he was screeching loudly about something and, after ruling out all the usual suspects like food and diaper, asked him, “What do you want from me?”
He doesn’t answer. Sometimes that only makes him more mad.
So anyhow, as I said before, Luke is usually good, but he’d get these spurts where he just wants to be exceptionally whiny for no apparent reason. Or, you’d go to lay him down to change his diaper and the second his back hits the changing table he starts screaming like you’ve put him down on a hot stove; the second you’re done changing and pick him back up, then he’s totally fine again.
We’ve asked the teachers at day care how he usually is during the day and they always report that he’s pretty good. He plays and is pretty quiet and falls asleep for naps regularly, all behaviors that he typically doesn’t seem to exhibit on weekends or at home in the evenings.
And sometimes when we come to pick him up, he’ll be sitting there quietly with a green pacifier in his mouth, quietly sucking away and watching the world go by.
The first time we witnessed that, we asked about it too. Does he usually take a pacifier?
When he was little little, he used to occasionally like his pacifier and he’d usually doze off if he was lying down and sleepy and had it in his face. Then he got a few months older and he suddenly hated his pacifiers. When he was being fussy, even trying to get it into his mouth would cause him to cry louder.
We thought maybe he had just gotten bigger and didn’t like the little baby ones, so we went out and bought him some 6-month plus ones, including one teething pacifier that looks like a football mouth guard. We got those home and gave them to him and ... he didn’t like any of them.
The daycare teacher explained that his pacifier there was actually someone else’s they gave him by accident. Apparently one of the kids who graduated out of the infant room left it behind and the teachers thought it was his and gave it to him. As it turned out, he loved it.
It’s Tommee Tippee brand. All of the pacifiers we had at home were other brands, although they’re all pretty similar.
For some reason my wife and I sat on this information for a few months, not thinking much of it. Then, within the last week, we decided maybe we should try to order some of these pacifiers, since he still likes it so much at school. My wife ordered a four-pack and it arrived at our house Friday.
On Saturday while I was at Kid City, Ashley reported that Luke was in full-on whiner mode while I was gone until he fell asleep for a nap. When I got home later in the afternoon and saw the Tommee Tippees drying on the counter after she washed them I thought, hey, let’s give this a try.
When Luke woke up later and started getting whiny, I grabbed the blue Tommee Tippee with the hippo on the front and stuck it in his mouth and ...
It was like putting a key into a treasure chest and hearing the lock pop quietly, opening up a trove of untold riches. Not only did he instantly stop whining, he didn’t spit the pacifier out and contently sucked away for literal hours. He even fell asleep sitting up on the couch leaning against me for a period of hours while I was getting some video gaming in Saturday afternoon.
He’s generally content now. He doesn’t scream and cry during diaper changes. He snoozes extremely peacefully again while he’s got it in his mouth.
And, as I said, it further proves that even after six months, I don’t understand this kid at all.
We offered him at least five different styles of pacifiers and he hated them all. And then Tommee Tippee, which isn’t even that differently shaped from the others, comes along and he loves it. Apparently, this kid is brand loyal.
We tried it again Sunday and it’s not a fluke. This is a magic pacifier. This past weekend, he’s gone from being good most of the time to being good almost all of the time.
And just like that, we scored a huge parenting win.