When and how to introduce soothers to babies?
Only the best for your babies. To help you introduce a soother in a healthy and positive way, we have gathered useful advice and input.
When babies are agitated, showing signs of discomfort, it can be heart-breaking. As parents, you will move mountains to comfort your little ones. If simply cradling and rocking doesn’t seem to help, a soother may be a calming solution – whether he or she is a newborn, three months old, or even six months old.
How do you introduce babies to a soother? When should you give a newborn a soother? These are questions that may concern you. You want only the best for your baby and to make the right choices for him or her. To help you introduce a soother to your baby in a healthy and positive way, we have gathered some valuable advice that you may find helpful.
Keep reading to find out when to start giving your little one a soother and the techniques to help your baby accept their soother, and advice for encouraging calm and self-soothing with the assistance of a soother.
When is the best time to start giving a soother to your baby?
Soothers can be given from birth to any age; you can even start giving your little one a soother if he or she is already three or six months old. With many shapes and designs, there are even soothers that are specially developed for newborns, like our NEWBORN soother, shaped to accommodate their tiny mouths and to protect their sensitive skin.
If you are breastfeeding your newborn, you may choose to wait and introduce a soother after your baby has learned to latch properly and breastfeeding is well established between you two. Studies have shown that the use of a soother with healthy breastfeeding babies, having started from birth or after lactation is established, did not significantly impact the frequency or duration of exclusive and partial breastfeeding up to four months of age.1
With that in mind, it is recommended to hold the use of the soother when it is close to feeding time and not to use the soother as a mechanism to delay feeding. Instead, when your baby is giving you cues that they are hungry, enjoy this feeding moment to hold your little one in your arms and engage in the magical bond that unites the two of you.
Whatever timeline you prefer to follow, keep in mind that each baby is unique and may respond and adapt differently to this new experience being introduced into their life.
So, how can I get my baby to take a soother?
Every baby has their own preferences and rhythms, and introducing a soother is no different. Try the following steps when helping your little one discover a soother for the first time:
- Be sure to thoroughly clean and sterilise the soother before it is introduced to your baby.
- Hold the soother and gently touch the skin around your baby’s lips and cheeks with the teat. Allow your little one to feel the soother's material against their skin. This will help trigger the rooting reflex and your baby will turn their face towards the stimulus.
- Observe your baby’s behaviour. If your little one opens their mouth, it means that they are searching for something to suckle on. Place the soother gently on the lower lip or the front part of the tongue, and wait for the suckling reflex to start.
- If the first introduction is successful, your baby will eventually begin to explore and suckle on the soother.
Of course, be gentle with your baby and don’t force the soother as this may cause a negative response. If it seems as though your little one is rejecting the soother at first, it’s instead often an indicator that he or she just needs more time to explore and discover. Give your baby plenty of time to learn, explore new feelings and sensations, and become familiar with their soother on their own terms. You’ll know as your baby begins to enjoy suckling the soother – for example, you’ll see it from their content expression and calm behaviour.
Like all people, your baby has individual preferences and interests and you may even find that he or she doesn’t want a soother. By carefully observing their reaction upon introduction, you can make the decision as to whether your baby is ready for a soother – and he or she will likely let you know too.
Discovering the soother is a learning experience. Your little one will learn all about it through their senses and by using their tongue, lips and natural suckling instincts to explore with this brand-new object. In time, they will likely perceive and recognise their soother as a pleasant object that allows them to suckle, relax and perhaps even calm themselves.
1 Jaafar SH et al. Effect of restricted pacifier use in breastfeeding term infants for increasing duration of breastfeeding. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2016; (8):CD007202. https://www.cochranelibrary.com/cdsr/doi/10.1002/14651858.CD007202.pub4/full