Why Doesn't My Baby Want a Pacifier?

There are some babies who don't want a pacifier, but this isn't something parents should worry about. In the end, this accessory isn't essential. However, if you want some tips on how to get them to accept it, you've come to the right place.
Why Doesn't My Baby Want a Pacifier?
Mara Amor López

Reviewed and approved by the psychologist Mara Amor López.

Written by Mara Amor López

Last update: 16 December, 2022

Babies come into the world with an innate capacity for sucking; as soon as they’re in their mother’s belly, they do it with their own little fingers. This is called the “sucking reflex” and has an indispensable function, feeding the baby. Sometimes, this need to suck makes it very difficult to comfort the baby when the breast isn’t available or when it’s not feeding time, so we resort to a pacifier. But what if your baby doesn’t want a pacifier?

Babies have two types of sucking: “Nourishing” (the one they use to feed through the breast or bottle) and “non-nourishing” (they use it to calm down, seek security, comfort, tranquility, and contact). We can’t say that one is more important than the other for the baby. They need both for their correct physical and emotional development, so we must satisfy them both. Maybe in those moments when your little one has a need for non-nutritive sucking, you’ve tried to introduce the pacifier, only for them to reject it. So, what can you do?

Why doesn’t my baby want a pacifier?

Many moms use a pacifier to help their babies comfort themselves when they’re separated from them, to help them fall asleep in their crib alone, to calm them if they’re not hungry, or to give their breasts a rest if they are breastfeeding, etc.

There are many children who calm down with a pacifier, but there are others who reject it from birth. This sometimes worries parents, as they don’t know the reason, especially when they’re first-timers. The point is that if the baby doesn’t want it, we shouldn’t be alarmed, this happens frequently to many children and it’s not due to any problem. Like everything else, it’s a matter of taste and the baby’s way of being. The child may only want to breastfeed, after all, it’s in thier nature to seek food and warmth from their mom.

A baby sleeping with a pacifier in his mouth.

The advantages and disadvantages of pacifier use

Surely you’ve wondered at some point whether the use of pacifiers is good or not. From before the time your baby was born, you were told not to give it to the baby until one month after birth, especially if the baby is exclusively breastfed, as it interferes with breastfeeding. Pacifiers have advantages and disadvantages, but we can’t say that they’re good or bad. We have to respect the tastes of each child and, if they don’t want a pacifier, don’t force them to take it.

The advantages of pacifier use

  • They allow for the spacing out of feedings to give mom a break.
  • If the baby is agitated, especially in medical matters, or when they’re in the car and you can’t hold or breastfeed them, using a pacifier can calm them down.
  • Pacifiers help them fall asleep
  • If babies travel by plane, pacifiers reduce discomfort in the ears.
  • As sucking gives them a pleasant sensation, so does sucking on the pacifier.

The disadvantages of pacifier use

  • Its use is said to interfere with breastfeeding, especially at the beginning, when it’s not yet well established.
  • It may increase the risk of otitis media, especially with prolonged use.
  • Prolonged use of the pacifier can cause deformities in the mouth and problems with the teeth.

What can I do if my baby doesn’t want a pacifier?

A mother offering her baby a pacifier.

Your baby may not want the pacifier and may even gag when you put it in their mouth. If this happens, the best thing to do is not to force the issue. In case they refuse it from the beginning and you want them to accept it, you can follow these tips below. Keep in mind that a pacifier isn’t an essential object, although sometimes it’s true that it can be helpful. Don’t obsess if they don’t want it.

  • Be patient: Babies learn through routines, you can’t expect them to take a pacifier in two days.
  • Wait to offer it until after one month of life: This way, you’ll avoid interfering with breastfeeding and make sure that breastfeeding’s already established.
  • Don’t dip the pacifier in honey or sugar to offer it to the baby to get them to accept it. These products aren’t suitable for babies under one year of age.
  • You can try different types of pacifiers: Nowadays, there’s a great variety of them and they may prefer one particular pacifier over others because of the type of nipple or material.
  • Check that the pacifier is in good condition: It’s important to wash the pacifier frequently, observe if it has any breakage, and change it regularly.
  • If you want them to use it to sleep: You can offer it to them during naps and at night, so that they associate it with sleep and get into the habit.
  • Don’t force anything, let them do it at their own pace: If they don’t want the pacifier at a certain time, it’s better to wait to offer it to them on another occasion.
  • Use it sparingly: Don’t leave the pacifier in their mouth all day long. Your baby needs to experiment with their mouth, babble, laugh, or put things in their mouth to explore.
  • Don’t insist: If after a while, they still don’t want a pacifier, don’t keep insisting. Respect your child’s preferences.
  • After the age of one year, limit its use: You shouldn’t extend its use beyond two years of age, as it can cause problems with the teeth.

Regarding why your baby doesn’t want a pacifier

We’ve already seen that, although pacifiers can be very helpful under certain circumstances, especially in the first months, it’s not an object that’s totally essential, so if your child refuses it, you don’t have to worry or force it. In the end, we must be clear that at no time should the pacifier replace physical contact with mom or dad. It’s important to use it responsibly and always use it in moderation.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Comité de Lactancia Materna de la Asociación Española de Pediatría (2011). Uso del chupete y lactancia materna.
  • De la Torre, M. L., Alonso, C. P., Aguilar, M. H., Maldonado, J. A., Ansótegui, J. A., Segura, S. A., … & Escós, M. R. (2011, April). Uso del chupete y lactancia materna. In Anales de Pediatría (Vol. 74, No. 4, pp. 271-e1). Elsevier Doyma. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S1695403310004777
  • Mena Tudela, D., & Sánchez Reolid, J. (2019). Uso del chupete y efectos sobre la salud: una revisión de la literatura.
  • Orrego, J. P. C., & Mancilla, C. A. B. (2009). ¿ Se afecta la lactancia materna por la recomendación del uso del chupete?. Evidencias en pediatría, 5(4), 10. https://dialnet.unirioja.es/servlet/articulo?codigo=3249121

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.