Q&A: 9-month-old using mom's pinky as a pacifier

Scott writes:

"Moxie, we have a 9 mo. 2 week old girl who's entire mission in life these past few days has been to latch on to any body part mom has less the crying begins. For mom it's been unbearable. For me (dad) it's hard to hand over a wailer knowing that I can't do anything but give her mom. Here is the kicker, she is a pinky sucker, not hers but ours and in the past few days only moms. So when nursing and napping/night time routine begins, it's not only just mom who will do, but moms pinky attached to her mouth. This means mom = stuck in the bedroom until she is asleep.  It's maddening for the wife and hard on the family. We know this wont last forever but what to do in the meantime?"

I'm going to assume you've already tried switching her to a pacifier and it hasn't worked.

I think a lot of us know the trapped feeling of being stuck in a room with a kid (and maybe even a body part being occupied somehow by said kid) until the kid falls asleep. It makes you feel caged and resentful.

(But, there are also people who are stuck in the room with the kid the whole time the kid is sleeping, and the child wakes up when the parent tries to leave or extract a body part. So it could always be way, way worse.

That made you feel better, didn't it? No? So much for Misery Poker...)

The only consolation I have is that, yes, as you've figured out, this is just a phase. So it will be over soon.

In the meantime, you, as the non-preferred pinky-owner, can really only reinforce your wife's boundaries and guard her free time jealously. If she's stuck for every naptime and nighttime falling asleep session, she's going to need to de-stress when she comes out. Which means that if you can pick up some of the slack with chores or things that are going to make her preoccupied, she'll be able to come out and have some time to herself to do whatever she wants to do that will clear her head and make her feel less trapped.

I wish I had some magic incantation that would make your daughter not need the pinky anymore, but it sounds like she's going through either some crazy teething, or a developmental spurt that is increasing her need to suck. And time is the only cure for either of those. By the time you could figure it out, it would be over anyway.

Does anyone want to share stories of being trapped in the room while your kid fell asleep? If I had a dollar for every time I had to lie down on the floor next to the crib, and then woke up at midnight, drooling, I'd be able to go on vacation. It really just makes you want to jump out of your skin, doesn't it? But this always corresponds to times that make it extremely difficult to change anything about how your child is sleeping...