Neil White: Don't be a dummy, just give your crying baby what it needs
WE were driving away from East Midlands Airport when Mrs W and I had our first argument of an otherwise wonderfully relaxing holiday week.
This is pretty much how it went:
Me: "Didn't that baby drive you mad on the plane?''
Mrs W: "I felt sorry for the mum. She was on her own.''
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Me: "But why, for heaven's sake, didn't she have a dummy?''
Mrs W: "It might not have worked. Don't you remember when Catherine (our daughter) screamed on a coach for two hours? Nothing would stop her.''
Me: "You are just arguing for the sake of it. SHE SHOULD HAVE HAD A DUMMY.''
I am utterly bamboozled by the modern-day fashion for parents to go without dummies (or soothers or pacifiers for the posh).
I remember having seven strategically placed around our house when our children were babies.
Thus, we were prepared for any sudden eruption which couldn't be explained by a full nappy or them being hungry.
In the event of tiredness, they were an absolute godsend, especially when they were combined with a short walk in a pushchair.
The fact that Mrs W (and I) can remember so vividly the days our babies could not be pacified (our son's worst screaming abdabs came in a pub in Wales where we had to vacate the premises and eat a meal in its garden) is a testament to the dummies' brilliance.
Oh, I nearly forgot my big bust-up with my mum and dad when I could not find any of the three dummies which I had taken with the baby to their house.
It was at this point I discovered the problem with soothers – namely, that if baby wants them, baby has to have them.
I was searching in every crevice of his pram and the furniture to find my salvation but to no avail.
I became more and more tense, letting my poor mum and dad have both barrels as they tried to help.
Eventually, I darted to the local shop (I could dart in those days) and came back to apply relief to the situation.
Nowadays, I am not sure a dummy could be found at a corner shop. They have become unpopular. Parents seem to think it is a sign of weakness to use one.
They have believed reports that excessive use of a dummy "might" affect teeth or language development if they were sucked for six hours a day.
But The Foundation for the Study of Infant Death Syndrome now advises giving a baby a dummy when you put them to sleep at night, because some recent research found it helps to protect against cot death.
While all of this is jolly interesting, the greatest advantage of a dummy is in preserving sanity.
Firstly, for parents who are desperate to sleep or relax and secondly, it helps avoid inflicting the sound of the bawling babies on to others.
Flying for a few hours is uncomfortable at the best of times but the least we can all do is think of our fellow passengers.
So if you are taking a baby on board, please remember a dummy.