We asked pediatrician Jennifer Trachtenberg a national parenting expert, author and spokesperson for the American Academy of Pediatrics tackles the binkie basics. Her take on when exactly is the right time to introduce your baby to a pacifier, and how to do it, is below.
I have three children so I know firsthand how each can be different. I say this because there isn’t one way to do anything with children, it just often depends on the child. Some babies will like pacifiers, some won’t. However, I always tell my patients that most babies can’t self-soothe before they turn 3 months old, which means you need to find ways to make them comfortable. They are easily startled and their reflexes dominate, particularly when it comes to suckling—they have a need to suckle. I also always say: You can’t spoil a baby in the first three months, so don’t worry about giving them too much support.
This is where pacifiers come in. The baby has a reflexive need to suck, so if you know the baby isn’t hungry, pacifiers are an excellent way to soothe that need. While some believe you want to wait until your child has fully figured out feeding before introducing a pacifier, there hasn’t been a conclusive study done to show that babies are truly at risk if the pacifier is introduced earlier. If anything, there’s a chicken or an egg thing where if a mother is feeling frazzled by the child being upset, it can make feeding more difficult for her as well. The American Pediatric Association has also shown that pacifiers are linked to a reduction in SIDS. While we don’t know why that is, it is safe to say that pacifiers can help. So if you want to introduce a pacifier to your child, here are my tips…
1. Make sure when you do introduce it, your child isn’t hungry.
2. Notice their cues. Are they trying to suckle?
3. If so, offer the pacifier. If they don’t take it at first, you can and should offer it again. Sometimes things take a sec to warm up to.
4. If they still aren’t into the paci, you might just not have a pacifier baby, in which case you should find other ways to soothe them when they need it. I’d still suggest offering it up a few more times, as being overtired or cranky might be a factor in them not taking to it. Good luck!