Nunus and Babas

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Every night Fable takes her bottle. She curls up next to me, puts her hand against my face and sucks away. She does the same thing before nap every afternoon. And occasionally, has a third bottle when she wakes in the middle of the night.

"She's getting old for that bottle," people tell me. "Might be time to call it quits. Trade the bottle for a sippy cup. She's going to be two soon..."

"Yeah. I know. You're right," I hear myself say but to myself I'm saying, "No! You're actually not right at all. Yes, she's going to be two soon. Two. TWO. Let the baby be a baby, please. I mean, sheesh louishe. What's the rush?"

Up until the eve of his fifth birthday, Archer slept with a pacifier. A "nunu" as he called it. He had no need for it outside of his bed, but when it came time to say goodnight, he reached onto the bedstand, plucked the pacifier from its place beside the stereo and stuck it in his mouth, his eyes closing, closing... BAM. Asleep.

We figured, it wasn't hurting anyone letting him sleep with it so we let it go. Until he turned four and we sat him down to discuss that the time had come to say goodbye to his nunu.

"You're getting older, dude. Maybe it's time you think about giving up the nunu at bedtime. What do you say?"

"I'm not ready," he said. "But when I'm five? When I'm five I won't need it anymore."

Pretty soon "five" became the age when everything was possible.

"I'll try pasta salad when I'm five."

"I'll eat brocolli when I'm five."

"I'll do swimming lessons when I'm five."

"I'll be a better listener.."

He had decided that "age five" was when everything would change for him. It was his "grown-up" age and we went with it. We went with it because he had us and himself convinced.

I never understood the push. It's not our style as parents, I guess and although we think it's important to set rules and boundaries, our focus is on raising kind, confident, independent humans, with or without bottles and pacifiers before bed. AKA, we pick our battles.

No one can deny that all children are different. That each child walks and talks and sleeps through the night at different ages and stages. Fable never took a pacifier and Archer weaned from bottles at nine-months. When he was ready. Because, eventually they all become ready. Ready to crawl and walk and poop in the toilet. Ready to say goodbye to their pacifiers, bottles, blankies. (I slept with my blankie until High School.) So? We don't push. We discuss, sure. We introduce alternatives but we do not force or push or take away.

Archer needed some extra time to say goodbye to his nunu. So? He got it. And if Fable needs some extra time with her baba? That's okay, too. Because letting go is one of life's most important lessons. Every day a part us dies and giving a child the opportunity to "quit" their first (harmless) "vices" is an important lesson in self-discipline me thinks.
I figure, much like with Archer's pacifier, same will go for Fable. One day she won't want a bottle before bed anymore. She won't need one. She'll be done with all that. She, with our help, will be able to prepare herself for a new bottle-less life and that will be the end of our milk-stained-sheets-period...


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