How to Encourage a Baby to Use a Pacifier

Using a pacifier as your baby falls asleep at bedtime and naptime can reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) substantially, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics 1. Furthermore, a pacifier helps babies to soothe themselves and satisfies the sucking reflex in babies who are not adequately satisfied by the time spent sucking during bottle or breastfeeding. However, introducing a pacifier too early, before three to four weeks of age, can cause nipple confusion, making it difficult to establish breastfeeding, so it's best to introduce a pacifier once breastfeeding has been well-established.

Introduce the pacifier when your baby is calm and content. This is the time when he will be most receptive to the introduction. When he is already upset or crying, he will likely be more resistant to something that is unfamiliar. He might be resistant to the pacifier if he is frantically hungry, too. If he resists the pacifier at any time, don't persist. Wait until later and try again.

Gently insert the pacifier into your baby's mouth and use one finger to keep it there while her tongue works to figure out what to do with it. Sucking a pacifier requires a very different sucking action than the one used during breastfeeding. Wiggle the pacifier around in her mouth just a little or tap on the shield gently to stimulate your baby's sucking reflex.

Move the pacifier along your baby's lower lip gently if he pushes it out with his tongue or won't open his mouth to take the pacifier. The movement will let your baby know that something is there and encourage him to take the pacifier.

Try feeding your baby if you think he might be hungry. The non-nutritive pacifier might just frustrate your baby when he's hungry. Feed and burp him, and then try reintroducing the pacifier again.

Apply a few drops of breast milk or formula to the tip of the pacifier. The familiar and welcome scent and taste might make the pacifier more palatable for your baby. However, do not put other substances, such as sugar, alcohol or honey, on the pacifier. Sugar and alcohol are not good for your baby, even in small doses, and honey is not recommended for children less than 1 year of age due to a risk of botulism.


If your baby continues to refuse a pacifier, you can substitute it with your finger to soothe her when you aren't able to nurse. Clean your pinky finger, make sure the nail is trimmed neatly and let your finger rest gently against the roof of your baby's mouth to encourage her to suck.

Carry extra pacifiers with you -- they end up on the ground often -- but never tie a pacifier around a baby's neck.


Never use a bottle's nipple as a pacifier; this can choke your baby if he sucks the nipple out of its ring.

Never use a pacifier after its expiration date or if the rubber nipple has torn or changed color.

To prevent choking or suffocation, use only a pacifier that is comprised of a single piece and has a ventilated plastic shield that is at least 1 1/2 inches across.