Despite all the cute pictures of babies taking pacifiers, not all babies like a pacifier. That was a surprise to me when I had my babies, so I learned how to get a baby to take a pacifier.
Believe it or not, some babies are more genetically prone to sucking than others. So, some babies need more convincing or practice to try a pacifier.
All babies need to suckle, even if they don’t want a pacifier. Suckling and rooting is a natural reflex for infants.
So, if your baby refuses a pacifier, here are some of the best tips.
The Benefits of Getting a Baby to Take a Pacifier
When I was a new parent, I assumed taking a pacifier is simply a way to help reduce crying and save me from a headache.
While that’s true, pacifiers have real, scientifically proven benefits, which is why many pediatricians recommend that parents offer them to their infants.
Here are some of the benefits of pacifiers.
Soothing a Fussy Baby
Babies have fussy times, no matter what parents do, and pacifiers help your baby calm down. All babies need to suck; it helps with eating, but it also leads to calming and soothing when they are fussy.
Decrease the Risk of SIDS
One of the benefits of pacifiers that convinced me to give them a try is that it helps to decrease the risk of SIDS.
SIDS is scary, and I want to do everything I can do to reduce the risk. Sucking on a binky requires a forward positioning of the tongue, decreasing the risk of obstruction and SIDS.
Reduces Thumb Sucking
My pediatrician always told me that he would pick pacifiers over thumb sucking any day. Thumb-sucking has more detrimental effects on teeth development, and you can’t remove your child’s thumb.
Weaning for thumb sucking is much harder.
Helps Babies Fall Asleep
Suckling is soothing, so when your baby is fighting sleep, it helps your baby’s body relax enough for them to transition into sleep mode.
When is The Best Time to Introduce a Pacifier?
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that babies under one-year-old use a pacifier. They suggest that parents wait to introduce a pacifier until breastfeeding is established, around three to four weeks old.
Waiting to introduce a pacifier gives you and your baby time to establish breastfeeding and create a routine, reducing the risk of nipple confusion.
Also, if you introduce a pacifier too early, you risk missing out on hunger cues that your baby might show. It’s easy to confuse hunger signs and assume that your baby wants to suckle when he’s truly hungry.
How to Get a Baby to Take a Pacifier: 9 Tricks
If your baby is fighting a pacifier, here are some suggestions to help your baby use a pacifier with less of a fight.
1. Wait a Few Weeks
In the first few weeks, waiting is a good idea, especially if you’re breastfeeding. Introducing a pacifier too soon while breastfeeding causes problems.
The most common problem is nipple confusion. Despite what you might think, nipples aren’t all the same, and transitioning from one type to another is confusing for a newborn.
Nipple confusion makes it more likely that your baby will have trouble latching while breastfeeding, and you don’t want that.
Another problem that comes when you introduce a binky too soon is that you might miss hunger cues. When your baby happily takes a pacifier but feels hungry, you’re missing an opportunity to feed your baby.
In the early weeks, babies need to eat often for growth and development. So don’t miss those hunger cues!
2. Try Different Brands
Babies are picky creatures, and not all babies will take all pacifiers. So if your baby doesn’t like the dummy you offer, the first thing you should do is try a different brand.
Make sure the pacifier is rated for a newborn, and if you’re breastfeeding, you might want to consider a more naturally shaped pacifier for breastfed infants.
Take a look at the different brands.
Dozens of pacifier brands exist, so don’t despair. Something will work for your baby. I suggest only buying one or two types at a time and seeing what happens.
Make sure you always buy the right size as well.
Like bottle nipples, pacifiers are sized to fit your baby’s mouth comfortably, and older babies need thicker silicone to stop them from biting through the binky. Always buy the size that fits your baby’s age.
3. Tap and Shake
Another trick to get your baby to like a paci is to tap and shake it in your baby’s mouth gently.
When I place the binky into my baby’s mouth, I give it a gentle shake. Sometimes, I tap the end of it as well.
The movement or vibration seems to be convincing enough, and when you combine it with other tricks on this list, your baby will latch quickly.
4. Offer When Your Baby is Relaxed
Like anything else, always introduce a pacifier to your baby when he is relaxed and fed. Trying to get your hungry or angry baby to do anything is rarely a good idea.
Don’t expect it to go well because it won’t.
The best time to give your baby a pacifier is after feeding and before your baby goes to bed unless he’s exhausted and screaming. When your baby is calm and chilled, try to give him a pacifier.
5. Give After Feeding
Giving a binky after feeding is a good trick to try. This trick works whether you’re breastfeeding or bottle-feeding.
Remove your nipple or bottle and replace it with a pacifier. Your baby might shake his head at first, but pat his butt, tap the pacifier, and bounce him a bit.
You should convince him enough to try the dummy out!
6. Dip The Pacifier in Breast Milk or Formula
Another way to convince your baby is to dip it in breast milk or formula and place it into your baby’s mouth. They will instinctually start to suckle at the taste of milk.
Yes, they’ll soon wise up to the fact that nothing else is coming out, but you want your baby to feel comfortable sucking the dummy.
The sooner they feel comfortable doing so, the easier they’ll take it when they feel tired or fussy.
7. Make the Pacifier Warm
The breast is warm and soft, so mimic that feeling for your baby and warm up the pacifier. You can use your hands, warm water, a bottle warmer, or whatever you want to heat it.
You don’t want it hot! Don’t burn your baby.
It should be body temperature. Babies love this feeling and are far more likely to take a warm binky than a cold one.
8. Bait and Switch Technique
One of the best ways to get your baby to take a pacifier is to try the bait and switch technique.
Put a pacifier in your baby’s mouth, and then pull it away a bit. Instinct tells your baby to suck harder to pull the pacifier back into his mouth.
The best time to do this is at the end of a nursing or eating session. Your baby is full and a bit sleepy, so introduce the pacifier. Gently pull it out, and your baby will act like a fish on a line.
They pull harder.
Some call this reverse psychology, but it helps!
9. Have Other People Offer
Sometimes, mom is the last person that a baby wants to give them a binky, especially if you breastfeed.
Babies know that you have the tap, and that’s the only thing they want from you. A pacifier is nowhere as amazing as breastfeeding.
Have dad or grandma offer one instead. They’re more likely to have success if your breastfed baby is refusing it.
Some Babies Never Take a Pacifier
The truth is that some babies will never take a pacifier, no matter what you do or try. In those cases, the best thing that you can do is try occasionally, but don’t stress out yourself or your baby. Instead, focus on finding other things that calm and soothe your baby.