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?
Every baby is different, and not every baby takes to a pacifier easily. Most babies gags not only on a pacifier but on food, toys, and anything else that enters their mouth. This happens because some babies have a very sensitive gagging reflex. And guess what? Having a sensitive gagging reflex is a good sign because it prevents your baby from choking on small objects that can be hazardous and potentially fatal. As babies grow older, their reflex becomes harder to evoke and goes deeper in the mouth; allowing them to eat and swallow solid food.
When should I introduce a pacifier to my baby?
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, 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?
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 small hazardous objects. The gag reflex in a newborn baby is very sensitive and can be easily triggered. For instance, a baby picks up a rattle and puts it in the mouth, before the rattle stick goes deep in 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 refrain 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
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 the pacifiers!
- 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.
- Despite trying several different pacifiers, if your little one is still gagging on the pacifier, then try some reverse psychology. When your baby is nearly done with nursing, he is relaxed, and his sucking speed has slowed. Switch from your breast to the pacifier immediately, and wait for your little one to suck the pacifier. As soon as your little one gives it a suck, try to pull the pacifier lightly; you’ll notice that your baby will try to suck on the pacifier harder. Keep doing this for 10 to 15 minutes every day. Within a week or two, you’ll notice that your baby will start adopting the habit and will keep the pacifier in his mouth for a long time without gagging on it or dropping it.
Should I force my baby to take a pacifier?
Some babies do not want to take pacifier because they simply don’t like it. 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 pacifiers of different 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 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!