A Trick for Getting Your Baby to Take a Dummy
Dummies can be a complicated thing, babies either love them or they hate them! If your baby resists taking the dummy, 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 dummy. But first, some information and answers to frequently asked questions about newborn babies and dummy use.
When to Introduce a Dummy
According to The Lullaby Trust, newborns under the age of 1 should use dummies, but preferably not start until feeding is established.
When To Give Your Baby a Dummy
At around 3-4 weeks (or 1 month), The Lullaby Trust recommends introducing dummies once your baby gets the hang of breastfeeding, and once you have settled into a nursing routine. The Lullaby Trust recommends using a dummy for all naps and night sleep because offering it consistently helps reduce the risk of SIDS.
How to Keep Dummy in Baby’s Mouth
While there are a number of different dummies on the market (some attached to stuffed animals, some ‘specifically’ made for breastfeeding, etc.), we have found that reverse psychology is a helpful method to keep the dummy in your baby’s mouth. That is, every time your baby tries to take the dummy in his/her mouth, you pull it away a little bit until they suck harder. This method teaches your baby to keep the dummy in his mouth.
Another Way to Get Your Baby to Take a Dummy
I asked my patient Denise if her son, Aidan, liked dummies. She laughed and emptied a little sack onto the kitchen table. Six different dummies scattered across the tabletop, looking like a collection of lunar rocks. ‘He has rejected every single one!’ she said with a tone of resignation.
I suggested that Denise try a different approach to help her baby get the benefits of dummies. Rather than pushing the dummy 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 dummy (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 tiny bit, 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 dummy in his mouth. She repeated this exercise a few times a day and within 3 days, Aiden took the dummy 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 dummy—or gets confused and pushes it out instead of sucking it in—you can probably persuade her to like it by practising 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 is 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 will resist.
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Disclaimer: The information on our site is NOT medical advice for any specific person or condition. It is only meant as general information. If you have any medical questions and concerns about your child or yourself, please contact your health provider. Breastmilk is the best source of nutrition for babies. It is important that, in preparation for and during breastfeeding, mothers eat a healthy, balanced diet. Combined breast- and bottle-feeding in the first weeks of life may reduce the supply of a mother's breastmilk and reversing the decision not to breastfeed is difficult. If you do decide to use infant formula, you should follow instructions carefully.