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As wonderful as pacifiers are for calming a baby and giving a parent some peace and quiet, some babies get seriously attached to their first pacifier. This can be a stressful time for both you and your baby when it’s time to switch pacifiers, but luckily, we’ve been there before, and we have some tips to help you through this transition.
Pacifiers should be given the title of one of the wonders of the world. They’re great for calming a crying baby, reducing the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), and they provide some pain relief. The problem comes with getting your baby to switch pacifiers or wean them off a pacifier. Continue reading below and learn the 7 best ways to switch a baby’s pacifier when the time comes.
1. Give your baby the new pacifier when they’re relaxed
Giving a baby a new pacifier when they’re in a mood isn’t a great idea. I know that pacifiers are great for soothing an upset baby but trying to give a baby something they don’t necessarily want and something they’re not used to can make them even more upset.
Wait for your baby to be relaxed and then try them on the new pacifier. When your bub is calm and happy, they might be more open to trying something new. They are very much like adults in that way.
2. Swap the pacifiers while your baby is sleeping
It might feel like a sneaky thing to do and as parents, we always want to be honest with our children, but sometimes the best time to get things done is when your baby is sleeping. This includes sneakily swapping out their old pacifier for a new one.
If your baby is sucking on their pacifier while taking a nap, you can try to swap them while the little cutie is sleeping, or you can wait for them to start waking up slightly and make the swap then. In their sleepy and confused state, they might not register or be aware that there is a different pacifier in their mouth.
3. Use a reverse psychology method
Well sought-after American Pediatrician, Dr. Harvey Karp, suggests a tricky reverse psychology method.
Instead of pushing a pacifier in every time your little one pushes it out, try pulling on it every time he or she gives it a suck. He also suggests the best time to try a new pacifier is toward the end of nursing when your baby is relaxed, and the sucking slows.
Once the feed is finished, remove your breast or the bottle and immediately put the new pacifier in the baby’s mouth. Wait for them to suck on it and gently give the pacifier a little tug. Hopefully, if this method works, your little one should suck harder on the pacifier.
Dr. Karp does advise that this method may take a few days to take full effect but when tested on a patient of his whose baby refused multiple pacifiers, it finally worked after 3 days, and the baby boy took the new pacifier and kept it in easily.
4. Offer the pacifier to your baby after nursing
As mentioned in tip #3, wait till your baby has almost finished feeding and they are calm, relaxed, and possibly almost milk dazed enough that taking in a new pacifier is more pleasant than not.
Avoid trying to give your baby a new pacifier when they’re hungry, it’ll probably just make them “hangry” because plastic just won’t cut it.
Think about a situation for yourself, when you’re calm and happy, it’s easier to accept and try new things. When you’re upset, hungry, and angry, you probably just want a fresh sandwich and to be left alone or to stick to what you know. Please correct me if I’m wrong.
5. Coat the pacifier in milk (or formula)
Whether your baby likes milk or formula you can try this nifty little trick.
Coat the part of the pacifier that goes in the baby’s mouth in his or her favorite food… milk. Combining something they like with the pacifier teaches them that it’s ok. They don’t have to be afraid or dislike the new pacifier because it’s coupled with something they greatly enjoy.
6. Try different types
If the above tips don’t work, you can also try a few different pacifiers and sizes until one works. Some babies are fussier than others, and that’s ok too. It just means they’ll take a little extra work, and we all know that our babies are worth the extra work.
There are so many different types of pacifiers available, from round to flat, small to large, hard or flexible, there’s no telling which one your baby will prefer until you try them, and your baby agrees with one of them.
7. Try offering the pacifier as a fun game
Babies like to put things in their mouths and sometimes they start reaching for toys, books, and even their own feet to casually pop into their mouths. If your baby isn’t taking to a new pacifier, this bad habit of trying to put everything they see into their mouths might not be a bad thing.
When you’re having some fun playtime with your little bub, gently put the pacifier into their mouth when they’re happy and curious. Show them praise for it and watch them enjoy the feeling of having something in their mouth and not having it taken away from them like everything else!
When Do You Need to Switch Pacifiers?
There are a few reasons to change a pacifier, including when one of them drops on the ground and you have nothing to wash it with. Keeping spare pacifiers in your baby bag is highly recommended by, well, by anyone that has a baby. Trust me on this one.
It’s advised by clinicians and researchers that work with Medela that introducing your baby to a pacifier can be done at any age, even as young as three months old. Every baby is different and you will find many conflicting websites and information about this topic online so it’s a good idea to check with your baby’s doctor first.
The problem is, once some babies have gotten used to one pacifier, it’s hard to get them to change to another one. But, for multiple reasons, you will need to switch the pacifier over time.
Here is why pacifiers need to be switched, no matter how much your baby hates it:
- Pacifiers get worn out over time
- For hygienic reasons
- Your baby has outgrown his or her pacifier
- The plastic is broken
- The older your baby gets the stronger your baby gets, and pacifiers are made to be more durable for older babies
Pacifiers don’t expire but I would recommend changing your baby’s pacifier as needed and every few weeks as your bub gets older and bigger. They’re inexpensive and are available at numerous shopping outlets so aren’t hard to find.
The Benefits of Pacifiers
Pacifiers come with multiple benefits for your baby and for you as a tired parent.
Sucking on a pacifier has a calming effect on babies because it reminds them of being in their mother’s womb when they would suck their own fingers because the small space inside the womb would keep their hands close to their face.
This is why most babies so readily take to breastfeeding and sucking on a pacifier.
Here are the main benefits of pacifiers for your baby:
- Reduces the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) while sucking on a pacifier while asleep
- Lowers the risk of suffocation while sleeping
- Can help your baby to get a better sleep
- Calms a baby when upset, tired, or during medical procedures, and nappy changing
Switching pacifiers can be a troubling time for parents and babies alike. Babies can be stubborn and want to stick to what they know so introducing a new pacifier isn’t always an easy task.
Follow the above guidelines and tips to successfully switch your baby’s pacifier with less hassle, heartache, and frustration. It’s ok to trick your baby into using a new pacifier when it comes to safe practices, health, and hygiene.