You might be looking for pacifier alternatives because you don’t want your baby to use one or maybe your baby just doesn’t like them! Either way, frustrations rise quickly when babies are crying so I thought it would be a good idea to see what we could do to soothe babies without using a pacifier.
There are a number of different ways to soothe a baby without using a pacifier. Your baby may be soothed by breastfeeding, being swaddled, being held close to mommy or daddy, or even through rocking in a baby swing. Working patiently with your baby with each alternative can help them build good self-soothing habits.
If you are a concerned parent who wants to learn more about the process behind soothing your baby without the use of a pacifier, then this article is for you. Join us as we discuss six safe and easy ways to soothe your baby without the use of a pacifier.
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Don’t want to give your baby a pacifier?
I vividly remember the first night that we were home alone with my oldest daughter. The entire pregnancy I had lived in utter ignorance, patiently waiting for my sweet newborn girl to be in our arms. No one had prepared me for the panic of waking up to a screaming baby in the dead of the night. Even worse, as a brand-new parent, I developed the habit of popping a pacifier into her mouth without ever thinking about the possible side-effects of giving my baby a pacifier at such a young age.
Do not get me wrong, I would adventure to say that more parents use a pacifier with their children than parents who choose not to. This is a personal choice, but it is one where both sides of the argument should be considered. Pacifiers offer a temporary distraction for the crying baby. In some instances, a pacifier may soothe your baby back to sleep. Some research has even shown that pacifiers can reduce the risk of SIDS of in young babies. These are all very positive things about the pacifier, but what are the negatives?
According to the Mayo Clinic, there are a number of drawbacks to consider when using a pacifier to soothe your child:
- Using a pacifier to soothe your newborn can interfere with the early process of breastfeeding. In the very early stages of breastfeeding, your newborn will need to feed more often than ever. Not only is this time crucial for teaching your baby how to feed, but it is also crucial for building your breastmilk supply. If you use a pacifier, then your baby may not be able to practice and help build your supply as needed in the beginning.
- Some babies become dependent on the pacifier to soothe. In the long run, babies who are dependent on a pacifier to soothe will wake more often in the night when they should be developing sleeping habits. Your baby is going to lose his/her pacifier in their sleep, so when this happens, they will wake up looking for the soother throughout the night.
- Some people say that pacifier use actually increases the probability that your baby will develop inner-ear infections, but it’s mostly inconclusive.
This is not an exhaustive list, but this will give you a good idea of some of the reasons that parents choose to avoid the use of a pacifier.
It is also important to note that a newborn baby does not have any other method of communication beyond crying. When your baby is crying, he or she is trying to communicate to you that something is not right. Relying on a pacifier to soothe your baby may actually lead you to misunderstand your baby’s cries in the long run.
While using a pacifier is a perfectly valid choice for any new parent, there are still going to be times when you need to be prepared to soothe your baby without one. As mentioned above, each time your baby cries, he or she is trying to communicate with you. However, that does not mean that your baby is hungry each time he or she cries. Sometimes, a cry can simply be a request for comfort.
So, how are you going to soothe your newborn with no pacifier?
Soothing your baby without a pacifier
Soothing your baby without a pacifier is absolutely an achievable goal. The key to achieving this goal is similar to the goal of breastfeeding your baby. If you want to accomplish this goal, then you simply need to make sure that you are prepared for soothing your baby without one.
Take a look at our list of alternatives for pacifiers below. You may want to invest in some of these items to make sure your house is prepared for the crying newborn that will be here soon. You also want to make sure you do not have any pacifiers on hand. This will help keep the temptation to resort to a pacifier at bay for you and your significant other. Instead, keep your goal in mind and remain on the same page when it comes to the pacifier.
The best pacifier alternatives for infants and newborns
There are a variety of techniques and products that can help you to soothe your newborn baby without the use of a pacifier. Each baby is different, so it is important to note that your baby may prefer one of these methods over the others. It may take a few days, but once your baby is home, you will find a routine that suits both your baby and your new lifestyle.
This may seem like an obvious statement, but breastfeeding may be your best plan for soothing your newborn. When a baby uses breastfeeding to soothe themselves, it is called comfort nursing, according to Today’s Parent. Allowing your baby to comfort nurse comes with several benefits, including bonding between mother and child, and reduced ear infections in infants.
Many parents will argue that comfort nursing is not good for the baby. However, comforting and feeding your baby are both important aspects of the life of a newborn. There is no solid way for a parent to know what a child this young needs. If your child will take the breast, then allowing him/her to nurse is not a bad idea.
Keep in mind that with this method, you will have to be prepared for your baby to want to stay attached to you much more often or for longer periods. If you are normally feeding every few hours already, this could mean a lot of attachment that can make going about your day, running errands, or whatever else more challenging.
For newborns who have just made a major change from the womb to the big wide-open world, swaddling is a great way to soothe your baby.
I used velcro swaddles from Swaddle Me with all of my children and we thought they were super useful. You can check them out right here (and find some awesome reviews from other parents). I really like the velcro swaddles for a number of reasons:
- First, the swaddle cannot come undone in the middle of the night so I felt safe allowing my (not rolling) babies to use a swaddle while they slept.
- Secondly, it is very easy to take your baby in and out of the swaddle, even in the dark. This can be a big deal for diaper changes or diaper accidents!
- Third, these swaddles come in newborn sizes so you don’t have to deal with overly large receiving blankets. If you need to swaddle your baby longer as she grows bigger, there are bigger sizes available too.
I do need to point out that swaddling should only be used for the fist 3-6 months of your baby’s life. Once she is able to roll from back to belly or belly to back, it’s time to move away from swaddles. Once your baby can roll over, there is the possibility that she could roll onto her face while sleeping and suffocate.
From this point, you could move to a sleep sack that allows your baby to move her arms but keeps the feet covered. This will let the baby push away and move herself to help prevent suffocation while sleeping, but still gives them a little more comfort and support while sleeping. We have personally used the Halo sleep sack that you can check out here and had good results.
I’ve actually written a whole article all about whether or not your baby could benefit from a sleep sack that you should check out if you want more information!
If you had a baby shower, then you probably already have a lovie hanging around in your baby’s nursery somewhere.
Lovies are simply soft, small, stuffed animals that have a tiny blanket attached to them. Some mothers even drizzle a tiny amount of breastmilk on a lovie to give their baby a sense of comfort as they are not being held by mom or dad. If you aren’t sure what I’m talking about, here are a few examples.
Rocking Your Baby
This may also seem like an obvious solution, but there are people who claim that rocking babies is actually not the best idea, at least not in abundance.
A lot of modern parents disagree with this antiquated notion that you can spoil a baby by holding him/her. Rocking your baby is one of the best methods for soothing your baby without a pacifier. You may want to invest in a glider rocker for your new baby’s nursery. Here is a good example of one of those. If you haven’t sat in or rocked your baby in one of these, you are really missing out!
The Baby Swing
As much as parents want to hold their baby constantly, there will probably be times when you need to be able to put him/her down. If you find that your baby enjoys being rocked, you may consider purchasing an electronic baby swing to soothe the baby while you do other chores or take a shower.
Many modern moms recommend the MamaRoo swing for its unique ability to soothe a baby. It looks a little funky and it’s pretty expensive, but the reviews are great! You can check it out here.
But, my babies all used an old school Fisher Price swing like the one below and enjoyed being rocked in it when I needed to put them down. There is a swing for almost every budget.
Skin to Skin
If you give birth in a baby-friendly hospital, then you will likely have time to do skin-to-skin contact with your baby. Skin-to-skin contact is an excellent way to soothe your child without using a pacifier and it actually has benefits for mom, dad, and baby.
Skin-to-skin contact promotes a mother’s body to produce breastmilk. So, even when your child is not breastfeeding, skin-to-skin contact can help a mother’s body build a supply. Amazingly, skin-to-skin contact can also help regulate a baby’s temperature (this works with mom and dad). So, if your baby is crying because he/she is too hot or too cold, then skin-to-skin will solve that problem.
Many new parents rely on a pacifier out of desperation, but if you are against using a pacifier then you should stand your ground. Research for negative impacts of pacifier use promotes research into other methods for soothing your baby. This guide has given you all the ideas you need to soothe your baby without reaching for a pacifier.