Does your baby or toddler wake up screaming in the middle of the night for a pacifier because all the pacifiers you left in the crib are nowhere to be found? Today’s Hint, a guest post from Hint Mama’s husband (aka Hint Dada), may help.
Other parents may be familiar with the term “Dream Feed,” where a parent sneaks into a baby’s bedroom around 10 p.m. or 11 p.m. and shoves a bottle of milk down the baby’s throat while the little one is supposedly dreaming. The idea is that the tiny one will then be well fed and less likely to wake up from hunger during the night.
Well, today’s hint is a more humane variant I call the “Dream Paci.” It’s a trick to help make it less likely that a toddler will wake up and scream in the middle of the night because all the pacifiers left in the crib are nowhere to be found.
But before I explain how the trick works, let me back up a bit and explain the scenario we found ourselves in when I developed this technique. Many babies and toddlers are dependent on a pacifier to sleep and often wake up in the middle of the night only to find that their pacifier is no longer in their mouth. Because it’s dark, they can’t find the missing pacifier. So what do they do? Cry incessantly until daddy (in our home, Hint Mama is usually too comatose to get out of bed herself!) comes in with another replacement pacifier.
So after several nights of waking up multiple times throughout the night to replace a missing pacifier, I followed a trick mentioned in many sleep training books and “sprinkled” multiple pacifiers (usually about six) in the crib when we said goodnight to our daughter.
This “sprinkle,” which made it easy for our daughter to pick up a replacement pacifier in the middle of the night and go back to sleep without screaming, worked like a charm for about a month or so.
Then, our little pumpkin caught on to our trick and thought it would be a fun game to throw all the pacifiers out of the crib while she settled in for the night. Each evening, we could hear the sound of pacifiers bouncing on the ground one after the other, and she was back to waking up in the middle of the night screaming for us to come in and give her a pacifier.
And there was no question that she was doing this intentionally. One night, we watched on the video baby monitor as she pushed pacifiers through the holes in her crib onto the floor and even stood up to chuck one pacifier against the wall in her bedroom.
That’s when I came up with the “Dream Paci.” It works like this: Instead of putting all the pacifiers into our daughter’s crib when we tuck her in and she’s awake and aware that they are there, I now place two in the crib when she’s awake (and she throws these out of the crib as expected). Then, I tiptoe into her room later in the evening when she’s dreaming and fast asleep, and scatter the six pacifiers all around her crib.
So far, this trick has generally worked like a charm. The one exception: One night I woke our daughter up by accident when trying to sneak into her room. In retrospect, I probably went in before our daughter was fully asleep. So my advice to others trying to employ this trick would be to wait to do the dream paci until it’s been at least an hour from when your little one is asleep.
And if you don’t like my solution and you’re dealing with the same problem, another idea some of our friends use is to connect the pacifier via a baby pacifier clip to your child. However, we were wary of that technique due to our (probably unfounded) fears of creating a strangulation hazard.
Have you dealt with similar pacifier-dependency sleep problems? What solutions have you come up with?