Pacifiers are helpful for many parents who need to soothe their babies. However, it can be difficult to keep the pacifier in your baby’s mouth, especially in the moments that matter most. This article will discuss why it is so difficult for babies to hold onto their pacifiers, practical tips to try, and actions to avoid when attempting to solve this problem.
Why is it hard for my baby to hold onto a pacifier?
The reason babies can’t hold onto their pacifiers is simply biological. Once babies transition into a deep sleep, the muscles in their mouth relax and the pacifier falls out. This is completely normal.
Pacifiers come in different shapes, sizes, and materials. Because of this variety, babies often have a preference. You may have to try several kinds of pacifiers before finding the one that your baby likes best. Just make sure they are made of a safe material and are an appropriate size for your baby’s age. Some babies take to pacifiers immediately, while others need some time to warm up to them. There are always some babies, however, who never enjoy using a pacifier. All of these possibilities are normal.
Why does my baby wake up when the pacifier falls out?
Some babies sleep well with a pacifier and continue to sleep even after the pacifier inevitably falls out. However, other babies wake up immediately after dropping the pacifier, or they may cry when they awaken and realize the pacifier is no longer in their mouth. So, how do you address this situation?
One option is to pull the pacifier from your baby’s mouth right before they fall asleep. This is a skill that your baby has to learn, and it takes time to implement. So, if your baby begins to cry after you remove the pacifier, it is okay to replace it and try again later. The most important thing is to remain consistent with your attempts. Falling asleep without a pacifier increases the likelihood of your baby learning how to put themselves back to sleep without needing to have the pacifier replaced. This ensures that both baby and parents receive more uninterrupted sleep.
Falling asleep with a pacifier is considered safe and has been linked to a decreased risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome and better sleep patterns. However, if you feel that consistently losing the pacifier is interfering with your baby’s rest, it may be worth considering trying to pull the pacifier as they are falling asleep, so they are trained not to rely on it.
Are there pacifiers that don’t fall out?
There is not a pacifier on the market that is guaranteed to not fall out. Pacifiers are held in your baby’s mouth by gravity or by their own intentional sucking. Some parents opt to use a pacifier attached to a small stuffed animal that sits on the child’s chest and helps keep the pacifier angled near the baby’s mouth. However, these are a suffocation risk and babies should not be left to sleep unsupervised while using these items.
What to do when the pacifier falls out
Some babies benefit from pacifier “training”, especially newborns. This requires a bit of reverse psychology. When you give your baby the pacifier, try gently tugging on it to encourage your baby to suck the pacifier back into their mouth more intentionally. Over time, this can strengthen their sucking ability, making the pacifier less likely to fall out.
If your baby is over 6 months old, they can usually be taught to replace the pacifier themselves. However, there are some babies who simply refuse to take a pacifier, no matter how many varieties you try or how many times you practice. While pacifiers have their benefits, babies should not be forced to use them. Pacifiers are not a necessity, and there are other methods you can use to soothe your baby if a pacifier is not an option.
Actions to avoid
When using a pacifier, there are a number of actions to avoid.
- Avoid force. Don’t force a pacifier back into your baby’s mouth. Pacifiers are not intended to address every concern. If your baby is refusing a pacifier, you should consider other reasons for their fussiness, such as hunger, gas, or over tiredness.
- Avoid baseless use. Don’t use a pacifier to stop your baby’s cries without knowing the reason. Babies cry for a lot of reasons, including hunger, sleepiness, sickness, boredom, and discomfort. Putting a pacifier in their mouth when they are crying will not help you address these ailments.
- Avoid sleep use. Don’t place a pacifier in the mouth of a sleeping baby. Your baby can fall asleep with a pacifier, but if they spit it out, don’t force it back in their mouth if they are sleeping soundly.
- Avoid attachments. Don’t let your baby sleep with a pacifier attached to a stuffed animal or a pacifier cord. When unsupervised, pacifiers attached to stuffed animals (“Wubanubs”) and pacifiers attached to cords pose a suffocation and strangulation risk, respectively.
Babies have a natural need to suck, and a pacifier can help fill that need. You may need to try different pacifiers before finding one your baby enjoys. Some infants need to be trained to use a pacifier, and there are certain situations to avoid pacifier use.
It is normal for babies to be unable to hold onto their pacifiers, especially as their mouth muscles relax during sleep.
You can help train your baby to hold onto the pacifier by gently tugging on it while they are awake to strengthen their sucking ability.
If your baby wakes up when the pacifier falls out of their mouth, consider removing the pacifier when your baby is drowsy so they learn to fall asleep without it.
The use of supplemental pacifier items, such as stuffed animal attachments and pacifier cords, is not recommended during sleep due to the risk of suffocation or injury.