Implements of Pacification
There are several accepted methods for quieting a screaming infant. All of them work some of the time, some of them work more often than others, but none are guaranteed to work on any given occasion. Below is a brief list.
As its name implies, this is the go-to option for the average parent. Pacifiers come in a dizzying array of shapes that emulate, with varying degrees of success, the nipple that infants would almost universally prefer to the plastic contraption you are forcing into their wailing mouths. Equipment note: they also come in various sizes, and that’s important. Don’t make the mistake of inadvertently choking your 6-week new infant with a pacifier intended for a hulking 1-year old.
Pacifiers have also acquired a variety of overly cute nicknames such as binky, bo-bo, boppy, paci, nuki, plug, chupon, and my favorite—mute button (this is only a partial list—at last count there were approximately 573 frequently used names for this little device, some of which defy logic in their origins).
The most important skill to acquire in the use of the pacifier is the “quick insertion” technique. Finesse may make the motion more aesthetically pleasing, but nothing is more important than rapid response in heading off an approaching crying jag.
An interesting sidebar on the pacifier occurs with twins—well, at least with our twins—and it is a ritual known simply as the Daily Pacifier Exchange. It’s kind of like raising the flag in front of the school or turning the quaint little stop light in the bar to the green “Open” signal. In the morning, when both twins wake up, we bring them into the bedroom to ease ourselves out of sleep mode and into child care mode around 6:30 a.m. We put both twins on the bed, facing each other. One of them automatically looks at the other, reaches out, and takes the pacifier from the other’s mouth and holds it up for inspection. The other twin, also automatically, reaches out and takes her pacifier. After a cursory viewing and rotation, they each insert the stolen pacifier in their own mouths, and go on about their baby business.
I don’t know why they do it, and so far, they aren’t talking—literally.
Next to the pacifier, the blanket is the most common source of comfort for most babies. Like the pacifier, it has also acquired a number of nauseatingly cute nicknames: bankie, bookie, binkie, etc. (My first batch of kids came up with the variation of “bundy” long before Al Bundy became part of Americana).
Even before our twins were born, we had accumulated several dozen items, ranging from beautiful, hand-woven future heirlooms to practical receiving blankets. After they were born, we brought home a few dozen from the hospital, and then went out and bought about twenty more. As any parent can guess, many nights we searched the entire house unable to find a single clean blanket when we desperately needed it.
This is a bit of a crap shoot. Before the kids arrived, we bought a collection of cute little stuffed toys, hoping one would become the beloved plaything each kid would cling to and probably wear down to a bald clump of material by the time they were old enough give up their infant security treasures. So far they haven’t made their choices. My wife, on impulse, bought a five-foot tall stuffed bear at Costco. The kids like it and really enjoy wallowing in it. I’m not sure they recognize it as a creature because of its overwhelming size, and of course, the real problem is, according to the first law of twins, we’ll probably have to buy another one someday.