Pacifiers can be a tricky thing, babies either love them or they hate them! If your baby resists taking the pacifier, try offering it when she relaxes, towards the end of a feed. But if that fails, try reverse psychology—a simple trick to get a baby to take a pacifier.

I asked my patient Denise if her son, Aidan, liked pacifiers. She laughed and emptied a little sack onto the kitchen table. Six different pacifiers scattered across the tabletop, looking like a collection of lunar rocks. “He’s rejected every single one!” she said with a tone of resignation.

A Sneaky Way to Get Your Baby to Take a Pacifier

I suggested that Denise try a different approach to help her baby get the benefits of pacifiers. Rather than pushing the pacifier in every time he popped it out, she should pull on it a little every time he gave it a little suck!

Toward the end of a nursing—when Aidan relaxed and his sucking slowed—Denise tried this trick; removing her breast and immediately sliding in the paci (like a classic “bait-and-switch”). When it was snugly in his mouth, she would wait for him to suck on it…then she would pull it back a smidge, like testing if a fish is on the line. He responded by sucking harder.

For the next 10 minutes, Denise played this little game of “reverse psychology” with Aidan to teach him how to keep the pacifier in his mouth. She repeated this exercise a few times a day and within 3 days, Aiden took the pacifier easily.

Some babies are little sucking machines! (This is a genetic trait that runs in families.)

But even if your baby is lukewarm about sucking a pacifier—or gets confused and pushes it out instead of sucking it in—you can probably persuade her to like it by practicing the simple technique I used with Aidan. (This works best before a baby turns 6 weeks old.)

This bit of reverse psychology is based on our natural feeling that “what’s in my mouth belongs to me.” Eventually, trying to remove the nipple will become like prying a toy from a two-year-old; the harder you pull, the more she’ll resist.

View more posts tagged Baby, Soothing