As a mom, pacifiers can be one of the most helpful tools for you and your baby. This is because sucking triggers your baby's calming reflex, which can help them to self-soothe and cry less. Sounds great, right? But as many moms quickly learn, it's not always easy to introduce a pacifier in the first place!
Are you struggling to get your baby to take a pacifier? We've rounded up a few tips to make the transition a little easier. Here's to days full of happy, self-soothing babies, and hopefully some much-needed rest for mom and dad.
1. Introduce a pacifier when your baby is calm or sleepy.
One big mistake parents often make is offering a pacifier only when their baby is angry or upset. When emotions are heightened, babies are much less likely to try and learn to do something new. Try introducing the pacifier when your baby is calm or sleepy instead. This way, when you want to use the pacifier as a soothing tool, they'll already be familiar and comfortable with it, leading to a better chance of success.
2. Don’t force it. If they refuse the pacifier, try another time!
When you're trying to get your baby to take a pacifier, slow and steady wins the race. While some babies may accept the pacifier right away, others will need to be coaxed over time. Have patience and try not to push! You want this to be a stress-free experience for you and your baby.
3. Try dipping your pacifier in breastmilk or formula.
Both breastfed and formula-fed babies tend to associate feeding with comfort. And we want to introduce the pacifier as another comfort source. Some parents find that dipping a pacifier in breastmilk or formula the first few times makes their baby more receptive to it.
4. Warm it in the palm of your hand to body temperature.
Like bottles, most babies prefer a warm pacifier over a cold one. Make sure your hands and the pacifier are clean. Then warm the pacifier in the palms of your hand before giving it to your baby.
5. Replace your nipple with the pacifier after a feeding.
This trick has worked well for many breast and bottle feeding moms. If you’re struggling to introduce a pacifier, try gently inserting it into your baby's mouth at the end of their feeding. They will likely be more receptive to the continued sucking motion with full bellies when they’re in a position of comfort.
6. Try out different pacifier styles.
From rounded to orthodontic pacifiers, there are so many different pacifier designs on the market. The first one you try may not jive well with your baby, and that's okay! Pacifiers are relatively cheap, so try out a few different types with different style nipples to see what your baby likes best. (A pacifier clip can ensure that you don’t lose their favorites!)
Before trying out these tips, remember that your baby’s feeding comes first. Wait until your little one is three or four weeks old to introduce a pacifier. This ensures they have a well-established feeding routine and will help to avoid nipple confusion.
Finally, remember that all babies are different! Your little one might not take to the pacifier, and that’s okay. Some babies prefer their fists or their fingers for self-soothing instead. As with everything in motherhood, figuring it out will be a process. Stay calm, take a deep breath, and keep trying. No matter what, you are an amazing mom, and you are doing great!