How to Teach a Baby to Take a Pacifier

Whether to offer your infant a pacifier or not is a personal decision since there are pros and cons to both sides of the pacifier argument. A pacifier helps soothe a baby's strong reflex to suck, it can help him fall asleep and it may help reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). However, introducing a pacifier before breastfeeding is well-established can interfere with proper suckling and it may increase the risk of middle-ear infections. Even if you choose to introduce a pacifier, your infant might not readily accept it. Getting your baby to take a pacifier requires a simple technique and some patience.

Close-up of a woman touching the top of a baby's head (3-6 months)
Pacifiers can sometimes help to soothe your baby. (Image: Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images)

Step 1

Choose a pacifier wisely. There are plenty of fancy or well-decorated pacifiers on the market but your infant needs one that is appropriate for his developmental stage. Look on the packaging for a rating of newborn or infant and for some indication that the nipple is made to resemble a synthetic nipple or a breast nipple. Many pacifiers have wide bases, so look for one with holes that allow your baby to breathe while using it. For safety, choose a one-piece pacifier model rather than a two-piece model to avoid risks of the pieces coming apart and posing a choking hazard.

Step 2

Introduce the pacifier when your baby is fairly calm and content. Don't wait until she is upset or crying hard. Touch the pacifier to her cheek. This should encourage her to turn towards the pacifier and suckle. This is a natural reflex with which babies are born.

Step 3

Allow your baby to suck the pacifier for several minutes the first few times you introduce it. If he rejects it, try dipping it in breast milk or formula or warm it in your hand before trying to get him to take it again.

Tip

Once your baby has accepted a specific pacifier you will want to have several on hand in case one gets lost. An infant can become accustomed to one style and reject all others.

Warning

Don't force your baby to take a pacifier. Some infants may never accept one.

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