Posted by: Morgan | November 11, 2009

Quest: Finding a lovey or “You wake up how many times a night?”

People seem surprised that my nine month old daughter wakes up 3-5 times a night on a regular basis. In a parenting culture that teaches scheduling and early independence, I suppose it is odd to have a nine month old who does not yet “sleep through the night”. Because of various reasons, including “nurse on demand” breastfeeding, her denial of pacifiers, and the ultimate result that I am my daughter’s “lovey”, I have begun a quest to give her something else to equate to comfort.


From the day she was born, I have adopted a “nurse on demand” attitude towards breastfeeding, allowing her to nurse whenever and however long she wished. My husband and I agreed to encourage nursing for comfort, as well as nutrition, and withheld pacifiers from her for the first few weeks to prevent confusion.


In no way do I regret the decisions we have made as relates to breastfeeding. I believe so strongly in the benefits of breastfeeding, not only from a nutritional and intellectual level, but also from the emotional knowledge that this comfort and time is something only I can give my daughter. The first time Emma has ever been sick was this past two weeks, something I think can be attributed greatly to the immune-building antibodies in breastmilk. No one who has seen her rolly, chunky little body can doubt that she is healthy. The decision to allow her to nurse when she wanted, without creating a schedule to fit her into, was one that was definitely easy for me to do. It would drive me crazy to have to be constantly thinking about the time, when she’s “supposed” to eat, how long she’s eaten and if it needs to be shorter or longer. I am very satisfied that she eats when she’s hungry, fills herself up, and comes back when she needs more.


Along with this, while I am not opposed to the use of pacifiers in general, my little girl never took to them once we actually tried to give her one. Now she thinks they are the greatest teething objects. I never pushed them on her since it seemed she’d be a thumb sucker and we’d have that taken care of, but that never occurred either. For awhile there was a specific blanket she liked to have to go to sleep and had potential to turn into a “lovey”, but it was warm and fuzzy and once we moved to Texas we stopped being as consistent with its use and now it’s not a necessity for her. All this boils down to one fact: I am essentially her “lovey”.


I would like to interject that I do not believe one must “nurse on demand” to breastfeed, nor do I think that exclusive breastfeeding means no pacifiers. I believe that breastmilk is the single best thing for an infant to eat, exclusive of formula or any types of solids, until the age of six months. After six months, I agree with the AAP,


“Breastfeeding should be continued for at least the first year of life and beyond for as long as mutually desired by mother and child.” AAP Policy on Breastfeeding, 2009.

I hope that every mama breastfeeds her baby, whether she needs a scheduled feeding time or goes hey-nilly like I do, for at least 6 months. It is almost always possible to do, so long as a mama has good, knowledgeable support to get past any obstacles that come her way. Some women do have major challenges, but much more often than not there’s a solution to get through. And while I think that continued breastfeeding past 6 months is best, and past 1 year wonderful, I think that we would be making amazing strides in infant health if more women breastfed just that long.


To continue my story, I would like to be completely honest. Nursing “on demand” can be wearing some days, not pushing for sleeping “through the night” can lead to many sleep deprived nights for mama, and encouraging nursing for comfort can require my presence more often than it might otherwise be needed. I have not yet slept longer than 6 hours since she was born, and it was only past 4 1/2 hours two times (I know. I’ve counted them when they happen). My thoughts on continuing with this as opposed to stopping in my tracks and pursuing another option, like the “cry it out” method, etc. is the topic for another post. Suffice it to say that I realized something this weekend.


On Sunday I “taught” Sunday School for 18 month olds. Most of them had “loveys” with them, either blankets, dolls, or just finger-twirling their hair. Ask a toddler to go anywhere without their lovey and it’s like asking someone to stop breathing. This put into perspective my place as my daughter’s lovey. And so, the quest to find a secondary lovey, just something that she can have to comfort her when I’m not there, has begun.


We have a small square of blanket, made specifically for this purpose (to the point that I believe its brand name is Lovey), that she was given at birth. I pulled it out and am going to try to have it in her arms every time we nurse for the next few weeks. She’s taken to it immediately, twirling it in her hands while she’s falling asleep, so I do not believe it will take very long for her to attach to it. Caleb is also using it when he rocks her to sleep (yes, she can fall asleep without nursing, just not when I’m nearby). I’m not sure if this will work, but I want to equate this pink lovey with the comfort she has when she’s in my arms.


So this post does not truly conclude, as this is a story in progress. I suppose I know that, no matter what, she’ll probably be able to sleep all night without me by the time she’s ten.

Emma Sleeping



  1. Interesting read, thanks for posting. 🙂 It’s always interesting to me to read the differing viewpoints on parenting and feeding that people have. I know some kiddos just take time developing a lovey too, but when they do, it can be such an excellent self-calming aid. I also think it’s hilarious when kids pick their own lovey no matter how hard you try to introduce your preferred one, haha! We know a little guy (Jesse’s cousin’s baby in San Diego) who immediately latched onto a stuffed Dr. Seuss “Fox in Sox” doll after opening it at has 1 yr birthday party and since then I have seen many photos and videos of him dragging this little creature around. I can just imagine what it will look like in 6 more months – or less! hehe! it’s so adorable to watch him with it though!

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