Help! My Baby Won't Take a Pacifier (Dummy)!

Updated on January 6, 2018
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Susannah Birch is a certified birth doula, journalist, and owner of Trimester Talk, a leading pregnancy website.

As a new mother, I heard a lot of horror stories about how hard it is to wean a baby off a dummy. What I didn't hear were the stories about how hard it can be to get a baby to take one!

Babies all like to suck on something. Some parents are happy for them to use a thumb, fist, or finger. Other parents prefer they use a dummy because of worries about teeth or just to avoid the large amounts of saliva that coat the baby after a good thumb suck!

However, not all babies are the same (if you haven't discovered this already!). Some take instantly to a dummy while others have to have a good think about it or just flat out refuse. Whatever the case, hopefully this guide will give you a helping hand!

Note: This is NOT a guide recommending that babies have dummies. In fact, babies can do just fine without a dummy. However, in cases where babies have wind or reflux, the comfort of a dummy can give the parents a much needed break.

When not to use a pacifier

Breastfeeding: If you plan to breastfeed it's a good idea not to use a dummy until the baby has learnt to feed properly and has correct attachment. Generally the recommended age for breastfed babies to start using a dummy is 2-3 weeks. If you have problems breastfeeding, check with your midwife or a breastfeeding consultant.

Newborn: A young baby can sometimes have trouble differentiating between when they want to suck and when they are hungry, since the sucking reflex is an important part of how their body gets food. For this reason it's a good idea to hold off at least a few days or weeks to make sure baby is healthy and has a good appetite before introducing a dummy.

What's Normal

Baby Latches onto Dummy Incorrectly: Breastfed babies are used to opening their mouths wide to take a breast, so young babies do this automatically when something is put in front of their mouth. Until they learn that they only need to suck the teat, they may try to take the whole dummy into their mouths.

Baby Takes Dummy For a Few Weeks Then Stops: Don't be surprised if baby seems to love the dummy then suddenly gives it up again without warning. My baby did this, but don't worry, not all hope is lost.

How To Help Baby Take a Pacifier

Try a Different Dummy: Often the baby may prefer a different shape or have a preference between rubber and silicone. Also make sure that you have the correct size for baby's age.

Try At Different Times: Try using the dummy as soon as baby finishes feeding or at different times of day.

Try When Baby Is Sleepy: Often when baby is sleepy, sucking on something can help them doze off and is more of a reflex than conscious action.

Hot or Cold: Try heating the dummy in hot water or cooling it in the fridge.

Stop Trying: If nothing works, try taking a break for a few days or even a few weeks. Babies can change their minds about likes and dislikes at any time!

Put Some Milk On The Dummy: Express or rub a little milk on the dummy.

Tap The Dummy: Place the dummy in baby's mouth and tap gently to get their attention and help them latch on and continue sucking.

Stroke Baby's Nose: This doesn't work for all babies, but the distraction of having their nose stroked often helps them suck.

Pacifier No-No

Don't Coat The Dummy In Honey Or Sugar: This is bad for several reasons. Honey can cause infant botulism, baby can get used to the sweetness and expect it every time they have a dummy and your baby has a young digestive system which may not be able to handle all the extra sugar.

Different Types Of Pacifier

Rubber or Silicone: Rubber is more flexible and cheaper but silicone dummies often last longer, especially if you sterilize by boiling.

Orthodontic or Bell: Dummies come in different shapes but these are the two main ones. The orthodontic ones are generally meant to resemble a woman's nipple and so may be more suitable for breastfed babies.

Sizes: Dummies are made in different sizes for different ages. Make sure you get the right size so baby does not feel like he is choking.

Questions & Answers


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      • Lady Guinevere profile image

        Debra Allen 3 years ago from West By God

        My oldest never liked those things and she never sucked on anything but a bottle and then she was a short time on that too. There is no rule that they have to suck on onything but a bottle or a real honest mother's nipple.

      • Everyday Miracles profile image

        Becki Rizzuti 3 years ago from Indiana, USA

        I preferred to use my own (clean) fingers when my children were very small, or to offer a nipple with my youngest (since she's the only one who was exclusively breast-fed).

        Turns out, though, that I was one of those children who never wanted a dummy. I also didn't suck my thumb. I've never asked my mother what I did suck on, but I suspect it was probably something cloth, like a stuffed animal.

      • metalmomma27 profile image

        metalmomma27 6 years ago from Hornell,New York

        For new moms to be or new mother I would say the best pacifier I used for my children was the Orthodontic pacifiers. I didn't breastfeed them they were all formula feed babies. The best formula that I think is really good if not breastfeeding would be Similac Advanced with Iron.