Why Does My Baby Gag On Pacifiers – What Can I Do To Help?

Each little one is unique, and not all babies become instant pacifier fans. Lots of babies gag on pacifiers, food, toys, and just about anything that enters their mouths. Why? Some babies have a super-sensitive gag reflex! But hey, that’s a great thing! It helps keep them safe from choking on dangerous, tiny objects. As they grow up, their reflex chills out and moves further back into the mouth, so they can munch on and gulp down solid foods with ease.

Are you one of those parents who want your little one to adapt to a pacifier, mostly to put an end to the unlimited crying spells (among many other reasons)?

But what if your little one gags on the pacifier?

When should I introduce a pacifier to my baby? 

Parents should introduce pacifiers when they are around 3 to 4 weeks old; once the baby learns to breastfeed and has adopted a nursing routine. 

Why does my baby gag on the pacifier? 

Why does my baby gag on the pacifier?

From the moment babies are born, they gag on nearly every object that enters their mouth. This reflex is very beneficial as it helps your little one from swallowing and choking on small hazardous objects.

The gag reflex in a newborn baby is very sensitive and can be easily triggered.

For instance, if a baby picks up a rattle and puts it in the mouth before the rattle stick goes deep into the mouth, the gag reflex will be prompted and will cause them to gag. 

The gagging reflex slows down with time, becoming less sensitive and harder to evoke. And again, it is a good thing because it allows toddlers to eat and swallow solid food.

For babies above 6 or 9 months who cannot swallow solids, their gagging reflex is likely to still be very sensitive. 

Benefits of giving a pacifier to your baby

  • Sucking on a pacifier is better than the thumb or finger, as it causes fewer teeth development problems in the future. 
  • It reduces the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) as it encourages your baby to suck while sleeping and refrains your little darling from heavy sleeping.
  • You can control pacifiers’ usage but can not control the habit of sucking of thumb or finger. You can throw away the pacifier or hide it, but you can not hide his thumb away from him.

Disadvantages of giving your baby a pacifier

  • Improper usage of a pacifier can lead to breastfeeding problems, teeth development in the future, and ear infections. 
  • A common habit of keeping a pacifier nearby the baby is to tie it around their neck. Tieing a pacifier around your baby’s neck is very dangerous. The rope can strangle your baby’s neck and can lead to injury or death.
  • Your little one could get a pacifier rash.
  • Speech delay could be a possibility from overuse.

Tips to help your baby from gagging on the pacifier

Tips to help your baby from gagging on the pacifier

If you still want your little one to adopt the habit of a pacifier, or stop your baby from gagging on the pacifier, then below are a few tips that I tried with both my babies and worked well.

My firstborn was very stubborn and never accepted pacifiers. On the other hand, the tips below helped my secondborn to stop gagging on the pacifier and adopt the habit of a pacifier.

I hope these tips can help your little one but don’t worry if your baby continues to gag on the pacifier. Some babies hate pacifiers!

  1. Each baby has different preferences. Therefore, the first thing you should do is try several pacifiers of different shapes and sizes. Your baby might adapt to any one of the pacifiers you try. 
  2. If you’ve tried a bunch of pacifiers and your baby still gags, give some reverse psychology a try. When your baby is almost done nursing, all relaxed and slow-sucking, sneakily swap your breast for the pacifier. Wait for them to suck, then gently tug on the pacifier – your baby will likely suck harder. Practice this for 10 to 15 minutes daily, and within a week or two, you’ll see that your baby gets the hang of it, keeping the pacifier in their mouth without gagging or letting it fall out.

Should I force my baby to take a pacifier?

Should I force my baby to take a pacifier?

Some babies do not want to take pacifiers because they simply don’t like them.

After trying a few tricks and methods, if your little one still gags on the pacifier, then don’t force him to take a pacifier.

A pacifier is indeed known to significantly reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), but you should never hold a pacifier in your infant’s mouth or force him to take it.

Let him accept it on his own; if your baby is stubborn, then there are many other ways to soothe your baby. 


It’s essential to wait for your little one to recognize the difference between a pacifier and a breast.

First, let him get accustomed to a proper nursing routine. This usually takes 3 to 4 weeks. Then you can introduce a pacifier to your little one. 

Some babies easily accept the pacifier and start sucking it. On the other hand, some babies have a hard time keeping the pacifier in their mouth; they keep on gagging on it or dropping it from their mouth.

If this is the case, the first step is to try different pacifier brands, styles, and sizes.

If your baby still keeps on gagging on the pacifier, try the reverse psychology trick; it has helped numerous parents it might help you too.

Despite trying everything, if your baby is still reluctant and keeps on gagging on the pacifier, then it could be that he hates the pacifier, or maybe his gagging reflex is very sensitive. You have no option but to either wait for his gagging reflex to become less sensitive or find another way to soothe your baby. 

Did you try a particular trick or buy a specific pacifier that worked wonders for your baby? Let us know in the comments below so other parents can get some input too!


  • https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/infant-and-toddler-health/in-depth/pacifiers/art-20048140#:~:text=If%20you’re%20breast-feeding,the%20continuation%20of%20breast-feeding.
  • https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2791560/
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Hello, I am Ramsha. A mother of two naughty boys. One is 2.5 years old while the other is 1.5 years old so you can understand the tips and tricks I may have learned and am still learning while upbringing them. It is a wonderful yet difficult phase of life. But every moment is worth cherishing!

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