Trying to get a baby to understand that pacifiers are positive can seem like an impossible task. It’s like that old saying, “You can bring a horse to water but you can’t make them drink”. However, there will be reasons as to why your baby won’t take its pacifier, and there is a way to develop a positive association with the pacifier.
If you’re wondering why your baby seems to hate its pacifier, you’ve come to the right place.
Gone are the days of your baby spitting out the pacifier and throwing it across the room at such inexplicable strength! Here is my guide on how to get a baby to take a pacifier!
How to get a baby to take pacifier: 6 steps
Step 1: Make sure you have the right pacifier
Not all pacifiers are designed for every baby. Each pacifier will be appropriate for a certain age and/or stage of development, so make sure to pick the right pacifier for your baby.
This is usually indicated with a rating on the package of the pacifier. Don’t be fooled by the expensive pacifiers, because if a cheap one works, then it’ll work just fine!
The ideal pacifier shape would have a thin neck, rounded top, and a scooped bottom. Again, make sure to check the rating of the pacifier, as it will indicate the appropriate age of the child and the size of the nipple.
Step 2: Associate pacifier with playtime
The key to getting a baby to take a pacifier is to reinforce it with a positive association.
This means that the best time to offer your child a pacifier is when they are happy during playtime – the happiest time of their day!
This is better than giving the baby the pacifier when they are sad or angry, as this will only reinforce their fussiness with it.
When it comes to giving the pacifier to your baby, try touching their cheek with it at first. They need to know that the nipple of the pacifier is soft and won’t harm them.
Edge this slightly closer to their mouth, and as babies do, they should feel a natural reflex to put it in their mouth.
Step 3: See what happens
The next step is a waiting game. If you’re lucky, your baby might suck on the pacifier for a couple of minutes.
If this is the case, you can repeat the following steps until the baby is comfortable with a pacifier regardless of what mood they are in!
Should the baby spit it out immediately, try to put it near their cheek again. If there’s no luck again, we recommend putting formula or breast milk on the nipple of the pacifier.
Don’t put syrup or anything else too sweet on it, as that much sugar is unhealthy for your baby. Doing this might also make your baby fussier and expecting to receive syrup every time.
Step 4: Reverse psychology – make your baby think they can’t have the pacifier
This step is only optional in the event that your baby is still refusing the pacifier. The minute your baby begins to suckle on the pacifier, gently (very gently) pull it away from the baby.
We all know that babies are mischievous and want what they can’t have, so this reverse psychology could encourage the baby to suck even harder at the pacifier.
The best time to do this is straight after feeding, as your baby will want to continue the sucking motion while they are still full.
Step 5: Don’t rush the steps
If your baby still isn’t taking the pacifier, it’s best to leave it for a few days. Persistently trying to get your baby to suck on the pacifier will only reinforce a negative association.
Just wait a few days, and then try again. Your baby might simply not be ready for a pacifier yet!
Step 6: Trick your baby
Hold your baby as if you are going to feed them, dip the pacifier into breast milk or formula, and then gently touch the nipple of the pacifier onto the baby’s lips.
In theory, this should trigger your baby’s reflexes which will open their mouth.
Then, gently push the pacifier into your baby’s mouth and allow your baby to suck (if you’re lucky).
Why your baby won’t take to a pacifier
If your baby still isn’t taking to a pacifier, here are some possible reasons why.
It wasn’t introduced early enough
It is recommended that babies are introduced to a pacifier at around four to six weeks of life.
These weeks are essential for their development, as they will quickly begin to recognize your features and the surrounding things.
Failing to introduce your baby to a pacifier this early could lead to them not wanting it in the future.
You’re trying too much
Babies will cry a lot, but this doesn’t always mean that they will need a pacifier. If you’re offering the pacifier more often than not, then the baby may become resentful of it.
How would you feel if you had to suck on a binky all day? After all, a pacifier won’t always be the answer to the problem the baby is crying about.
The baby might not be in the mood
Your baby could simply not want a pacifier at that moment. This doesn’t mean you should stop trying – instead, find a way to introduce it during an activity like playtime to associate it with happiness.
The pacifier is too big
If you’ve bought the wrong pacifier and the nipple is too large, your baby will not want to suck on it. Sure, they will outgrow pacifiers eventually, but they will get used to a particular size and shape.
It’s best to replicate this each time you buy a new binky.
Your baby just doesn’t want it
In some cases, your baby might simply not want a binky. This shouldn’t affect their development, so don’t worry too much! You’ve tried everything you could, but some things just cannot be forced.