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Comfort Objects

By Janet King
Orlando FL USA
From: NEW BEGINNINGS, Vol. 20 No. 1, January-February 2003, p. 8

Lately, I've been reading a lot about comfort objects. Baby magazines offer some very good advice about them. For example, if your child's object is something that can be purchased at the store, buy two or three of them so that it can be quickly replaced in case it gets lost. If your child is in love with a blanket and won't even give it up for washing, cut it in half so that one half can be snuggled while the other half is washed. If your child wants to bring his blanket to school, cut off a corner small enough to fit in his pocket. The best advice I've seen so far: in case of an emergency, don't forget to bring your child's comfort object to the hospital.

After reading that last piece of advice, I thought about my son's source of comfort. I would never forget to bring it to the hospital. I could never lose it or accidentally leave it at Grandma's. It gets a good washing daily. No matter how hectic my morning or how poorly packed my diaper bag is, I've always got it with me. I've never had to grope for it in the dark or search the house for it. I think that you already know what his comfort object is, but I'll tell you anyway. It's my breast. Either one will do, but he likes the right one best.

I didn't encourage his choice in comfort objects. In fact, when he was two weeks old, I tried to give him a pacifier. He sucked on it happily until he wanted to nurse, then he spit it out and cried. I tried explaining to him that the pacifier was for those times he needed comfort, but he just didn't get it. He would suck on the pacifier while he was happy and content, then insist on the breast when he was hungry, tired, or just needed comfort.

I decided that it was the milk that he loved, so I pumped and got some bottles together. I handed him and the bottles to my mother, confident that he would be happy as long as he had his delicious milk. Wrong. He wouldn't take more than an ounce or two even though she tried repeatedly to get him to take a bottle. Frankly, she was overjoyed at the thought of being able to feed him herself, and she tried day after day, to no avail. We then realized that it wasn't my breast milk he was after, but the contact we shared through breastfeeding.

I breastfeed him whenever he needs it. Other people think he doesn't need it when he has just been fed, but I know better. I've breastfed him everywhere, in and out of the sling. He's breastfed on an airplane, in every restaurant in town, even in front of my mortified uncles. He's breastfed at the gym, the park, the table during the Passover Seder, and in my husband's cubicle at work. And yes, I nurse him in bed at night, too. Whenever he needs soothing, I am there.

I love the way he feels about breastfeeding. When he knows it's coming, he claps his hands and giggles. If I make him wait, he gets mad, then nurses greedily. Sometimes we play peek-a-boo with his comfort object and he howls with laughter. On lazy days he likes to breastfeed while relaxing in front of a video.

Now that he is a year old, he is a self-soother, too. At night when he wakes up and needs soothing, he gropes in the dark until he finds my breast and latches on himself. In the morning while we are playing on the floor, he lifts my pajamas and latches on, all by himself. My husband says that if we hung him upside down by his ankles, he would latch on and nurse.

Some people say that I am a human pacifier. Some say it with condescension and I resent that. I comfort my child when he needs it. I'm not a pacifier, but a comforter. After all, I am his mother.

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