Parenting

Why I’m fine with my toddler’s pacifier

Katie has received eye rolls and dirty looks when spotted with her pacifier-toting toddler.

Sophie enjoys a good book with her pacifier.

My daughter is tall for her age, with a mop of blonde hair (that conveniently looks like we cut it into a bob but we didn’t), and she talks a ton. Despite her wobbly waddle — she finally capitulated on the walking bit last week at 17.7 months — people often think she’s two or more. I never thought that would be an issue; people have always thought I’m older than I actually am. (It was great when I was 17 and looked 20, but I suspect it isn’t going to be such a coveted compliment when I’m 60 and people think I’m 65. I tell myself it’s my old soul, but who are we kidding.) But it has become a problem of late, when Miss Soph is sighted with a pacifier in her mouth.

Soph has been a pacifier kid since Day One. First it was the round rubber one-piece they recommended at the hospital (with the instruction that it only be introduced after nursing was established, don’t worry) but she moved on to the traditional two-piece by four or five months and hasn’t looked back. At a year and a half, she goes most of the day without it, but we do give it to her for long car rides and for sleeping. This is completely acceptable to me. If it falls out while sleeping, it doesn’t wake her up, and if she’s doing alright in the car, we don’t even show it to her.

Her doctor says he isn’t concerned about her pacifier use at this point, and I’m not fussed about it either, so why are other people? One woman in the grocery store last month said, “You’re getting big for that binky, aren’t you, sweetheart?” I said “Actually, she’s not even a year and a half yet.” She closed her mouth and moved on through the produce section. But this isn’t the first time, and I’m sure it isn’t the last, that strangers have tsk-tsk’d at my toddler and her soother.

I’ve written before about my beef with the peanut gallery. I’m coming around to getting kind unsolicited advice, I admit: If you’re actually trying to help, bring it on. (In fact, here’s the best piece of advice I’ve received lately: When trying to get otherwise happy kids to be necessarily sullen for passport photos, rub something sweet or sour on their lower lip. As they suck the flavour off, they aren’t smiling just long enough to snap the shot.) But if you’re not trying to help, and you’re just being the mean-girl equivalent of mothers, I’m fine if you keep it to yourself. Judge me from afar, if you must, but I’d rather you just abide by the Thumper rule: “If you can’t say something nice…” You know the rest. I’ll make sure Soph can enunciate that word for word by the time she goes to school. Without her soother, I’m sure.

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