How to introduce your baby to a dummy
Introducing a dummy to your baby is different for everyone. Some babies are attracted to it in an instant while others take time to love it. Here are some tips for making the introduction more successful:
- Let your baby guide your decision - If they take to it straight away, great. But if they resist, don't force it. You can try again another time.
- Offer the dummy at the right time, not when your baby is upset or hungry – It sounds counter intuitive but for the first time it helps to offer the dummy when your baby is calm and relaxed. Do not force the dummy in when your baby us upset and don’t replace a feeding session by giving your baby a dummy as this will upset them.
- Another great time to try is before sleep – Either before bed time or even a nap. A sleepy baby may find sucking very soothing and assist them to fall asleep. It is also believed that dummy use before sleeping time may help protect them baby against SIDs
- Introduce gradually - Slowly and gently offer your baby the dummy. You can tickle their lips gently with the nipple until they open their mouth to explore the teat. Never try to force it into their mouth.
- Positioning is key – If your baby allows you to place the dummy in their mouth but they keep popping it out there is a trick to get them to suck on it. At the back of a baby’s mouth there is a spot where the soft palate meets the hard palate where a sucking reflex is triggered when anything touches it. Essentially, it’s between the roof of their mouth (hard palate) and the movable part at the back of their throat (soft palate). This is where you should aim the dummy.
- If all else fails you can add a familiar taste - Some babies are more likely to take to a dummy if they can taste milk droplets on it. This tip is not for ongoing use but to simply introduce a dummy. Never put honey or other sweeteners on the dummy as they can cause decay.
- Try different teats - A very large round teat dummy is often recommended. Midwives have suggested that a large teat (one that some parents might think looks too big for their tiny baby) often has greater success as they are able to hold it in and the size is closer to the large amount of nipple they actually take in their mouth. Many parents have also had success with an orthodontic style so if your baby doesn't take to the round it's worth trying an orthodontic dummy.
Be patient and try for 3-4 days as some babies take time to warm to a dummy and as a parent it's amazing to have such a great comforting tool available to you.
Additional tips for a breastfed baby
There are a couple of additional considerations when introducing a dummy to a breastfed baby:
- Establish feeding first – Introduce the dummy after a consistent feeding pattern has been established and your baby has learnt to latch so as not to derail breastfeeding. This may take a few weeks between 2 – 6 weeks depending on your baby. Unless they are prem in which case a dummy can help establish feeding.
- Ask Dad or another family member to introduce the dummy – Babies know your smell and they expect milk will come from the teat they suck so the first few times you introduce the dummy it helps for it to be offered by another family member in order for your baby to take the dummy smoothly.
- Mimic your nipple temperature - Sometimes breastfed babies don’t take a pacifier because it is cold. They are use to a nipple that is warm 37° C while the dummy will naturally be room temperature. Another tip to try is to warm the teat first. Simply place the teat under the tap for a couple of minutes. Don’t immerse the whole thing in water and make sure its not too hot before giving it to your baby.
- Simulate breastfeeding by using a dummy with a large shield & round teat – A large shield will gently touch your baby’s nose and give them the closeness and comfort they usually receive from your breast. As for the teat, start with the rounded nipple dummy first as it’s more similar to a mother’s nipple. Keep trying if your baby is spitting it out but move on the orthodontic one if the trials failed for more than 2 days.
- Replace your nipple with a dummy after a feed – When you can feel your baby sucking but not actually feeding try to gently swap your nipple for the dummy