Soothers were something that we never had a choice on. With our girls being born two months prematurely and without mature sucking skills (babies need to have a suck that is both coordinated and strong to be able to feed from breast or bottle) they were given soothers as soon as they entered the NICU.
My husband and I were fine with it, I always figured that whatever made them happy is what we would go with. I sucked my thumb as a baby so I had no clue what our girls would use for comfort.
From birth until they were just shy of their fourth birthday they used the same brand of soothers…we bought new ones over the years but it was always the same, NICU grade soothers. They loved them…and so did we.
We knew that the time would come though that they (and we) would have to part with them.
When the girls went to their first appointment at the dentist we were told “they need to be gone before their fourth birthday.” No problem…lots of time. Or was it?
We had a brief moment where the girls thought it would be a good idea to give their soothers to their new baby cousin. They handed them right over without a second thought and walked away…until bedtime. That’s when they realized the error of their ways and the magnitude of their decision. When one of them found a soother I had missed hidden in their bed, thank goodness I had a ‘backup one’ downstairs for our other daughter!
After that incident, my husband and I became well aware of the fact that, if these things were going to go, it would have to be well understood and well established for it to be successful.
We started talking about Santa and Christmas and the baby reindeer near the end of the summer. We suggested that maybe the girls, since they’re such big girls now, would want to give their soothers to Santa’s baby reindeer. They thought that was the best idea ever!
We toyed with bringing the soothers in a little gift bag when we went to see Santa at the mall, but my husband was quick to point out that the girls are already nervous enough to see the man in red, so having them hand over their soothers might be a bit traumatizing. He was right.
So we decided to hold onto them until the New Year, once Santa was safely back to the North Pole. We had the girls write Santa’s address on their envelopes, kiss their soothers and seal them up. Daddy then went and ‘mailed’ them to the North Pole and Santa surprisingly left them a little replacement toy under their pillows that night with a note.
There were still some sniffles and tears with the girls rotating nights of who “missed their soose.” But after some comforting words explaining that we understood that they were sad, reassuring them that it was okay to feel that way, and telling them how proud we are of them, within two nights it had become the new normal.
For our girls using the ‘rip the bandaid off’ technique never really works, but if we’ve found that if we explain it clearly, give them notice and even mention Santa’s baby reindeer anything’s possible.