How to Get a Baby Used to Using a Pacifier Instead of Sucking Fingers

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How to Get a Baby Used to Using a Pacifier Instead of Sucking Fingers
How to Get a Baby Used to Using a Pacifier Instead of Sucking Fingers

If you have a child, you've probably heard that pacifiers can be removed later to prevent dental problems, and fingers cannot. But let's face it, some babies don't like pacifiers! For many parents, avoiding the habit of sucking fingers can be a major battle.

Understand that thumb-sucking is not, in fact, a dental problem in the baby's developmental stage, as the baby has no teeth! Most (but not all) children kick the habit before permanent teeth are born. Also, thumb-sucking is a natural way that some babies use to calm themselves down, decreasing their parents' work. However, if you're worried about your child being unable to kick the habit in time, here are some helpful tips.


Get a Baby to Take a Pacifier Instead of Thumb Sucking Step 1

Step 1. Wait

If you plan to breastfeed, wait until your child has become accustomed to breastfeeding to avoid nipple confusion. With some babies, this doesn't happen, so a pacifier can be introduced early on. Until you introduce the baby to the pacifier, gently remove his hand from his mouth whenever he seems to want to suck his fingers. If hunger seems to be the reason for the habit, breastfeeding time can be a good way to avoid it. Also, wearing tip-tops and coveralls with sleeves that can be folded over your baby's hands, covering them, can help.

Get a Baby to Take a Pacifier Instead of Thumb Sucking Step 2

Step 2. Slowly introduce a pacifier to see how your child reacts

A great time to do this is when your baby is almost asleep while breastfeeding. You will have three things going for you: the baby is in a good mood, will still be sucking, and is sleepy, meaning he is easily moved and receptive.

Be careful to avoid doing anything that might make this a bad first experience. Try to avoid forcing a disinterested, hungry, or irritable baby to pick up a pacifier, as this can make them angry, causing them to reject it. Also, try to avoid pushing the pacifier too fast or at the wrong angle, as this can cause the baby to pinch, also causing him to reject it. (If you've ever accidentally done something that made your child hate the pacifier, don't worry - it's still possible to fix it!)

Get a Baby to Take a Pacifier Instead of Thumb Sucking Step 3

Step 3. If the baby responds positively to the pacifier, proceed to the next step

Otherwise, if he seems disinterested or doesn't like the beak, try these suggestions:

  • First, if your child starts picking up the pacifier and then spitting it out, try to pull it gently when it's in his mouth. This makes the baby suck it back. Be careful not to accidentally push it when it is in your child's mouth as this causes the opposite reflex, causing him to spit it out.
  • If this trick doesn't get your child to pick up the pacifier, try giving it later when he's in a different mood. Do this a few times and find the best time to introduce it.
  • If that still doesn't work, consider trying different sized or shaped pacifiers. For some babies, especially newborns, the regular pacifier has a very large nipple and can make them choke. There are some, special for newborns and premature babies, that may work better.
  • If nothing works, as a last resort, put something sweet on the pacifier, such as fruit jellies or sugar water. Of course, this is not the best option, but realistically, some babies refuse to take a pacifier until this is done. Continue gently inserting the pacifier until the baby shows interest in sucking. (This can take up to a week or two. Don't give up! If you insist, it will happen eventually).
Get a Baby to Take a Pacifier Instead of Thumb Sucking Step 4

Step 4. Now that your baby is interested in the pacifier, keep one close and offer it whenever your child starts to put his hands to his mouth

It might be helpful to buy a string to attach it to your baby's clothing. (It is better to choose a short one, so there is no risk of strangulation). Alternatively, you can always carry a pacifier in your pocket or clip it to your clothes.

Another option is to buy multiple pacifiers and keep one in each place where you usually leave your baby. For example, one near the crib, one near the swing and one in the car, for travel


  • When the baby is going through teething, keep a pacifier in the fridge and offer it when the gums start to hurt.
  • If you have a baby or older child who has become used to the habit of sucking fingers, notice when this happens most often (for example, sleeping, when you are sad, bored or watching television) and be prepared with a pacifier or other alternative to fingers, such as some stuffed animals to cuddle and feel comforted, an activity that involves both hands, or a solution to whatever is bothering you.
  • If you have an older child who sucks his fingers, a good way to get him to switch fingers is to give your next baby one. Older children are extremely interested in everything they see a new baby doing, and if he gets a pacifier, so will they. (That's why potty kids regress and want to go back to diapers when a new baby arrives).


  • Remember never to force the pacifier! This will only turn things into a battle! (Don't worry if this has already happened. Just follow the advice in this article and your baby will eventually accept the pacifier).
  • Do not give up! You will likely be discouraged, and even irritated at times. This is normal. Continues. You can do it.

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