Why babies push their dummy out with the tongue

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Created on Oct 20, 2023 · 8 mins read

A dummy or pacifiers can be a really useful tool for parents to use when settling and soothing your baby for sleep. However, it can also become extremely frustrating when all your baby seems to want to do is spit it back out!

Some babies are natural-born suckers, they will take to pacifiers immediately and find great comfort in the sucking motion. Pacifiers soothe them to sleep in no time. But other babies may take a little more help and guidance to get used to using one.

Pacifiers can can become a useful way to encourage baby to sleep for longer stretches (down the line). At a certain point, some babies wake for an unessential additional feed. This feed may be referred to as a ‘comfort feed’. If the baby is accustomed to their dummy, instead of putting them on the breast for a comfort feed, pacifiers can provide your baby with the comfort of sucking while sending them back to sleep. It’s a win, win.

So, if your baby keeps spitting pacifiers out of their mouth, don’t give up just yet. We’re going to get you clued in on why it happens, plus some handy tips for pacifier use.

Why does baby spit out pacifier?

Rest assured, there’s no need for alarm bells if your baby keeps spitting out pacifiers. There are a few different kinds of dummies, so maybe your little one is a bit pickier and needs some trial and error. For instance, the pacifier might not suit the baby’s age. And whilst some babies take the pacifier easily, many babies just aren’t that interested. You could have a self soothing little one who might not even need a pacifier and goes straight to bed. It’s important you don’t force it, as that’ll upset your baby more.

How to Keep Baby from Spitting Out Pacifier

1. Introduce the soother when your baby is calm

Some babies may be instantly soothed by a soother when they are upset but others will become more agitated and upset. Avoid trying to introduce the soother in a moment of desperation when your baby is crying or unsettled. When they are feeling like that, chances are nothing and no one except you is going to cut it!

Try introducing the dummy after feeding – rather than as a substitute for feeding, or at a time when they are feeling calm and happy. Let them look at it, hold it (if they’re able) and explore it a little, and chances are they will happily let you put it in their mouth and start sucking away. That way they will learn to associate the soother with feeling relaxed and calm (and keep a pacifier in their mouth for longer.)

2. Take cues from your baby

Dr Harvey Kapp, pediatrician and author of Happiest Baby on the Block, considers ‘sucking’ as one of the five calming reflexes for babies. In other words, babies are programmed to suck as a way of regulating.

If your baby is opening their mouth or sucking their hand, it means they’re looking for something to suck on. Gently place the soother on their lower lip or tongue, and their natural sucking reflex should kick in. If they are closing their mouth or turning away they are telling you they’re not interested.

3. Trial and error

Sometimes it may take trying a few different types of dummies before you find the one that your baby likes best. They come in different shapes and sizes, one pacifier can be very different from the next, so as long as you are still opting for one that is suitable for their age, it is fine to try a few different variations before you find the one that they love. It might help if your baby’s pacifier falls out all the time,

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4. Never put anything on the soother

If your baby is not showing interest, never put anything on the soother such as honey or sugary drinks to entice them as this can be dangerous for their body to digest. Honey may cause infant botulism and cannot be given to babies under 12 months.

5. Don’t force it

Sometimes the stress of trying to get the baby to use the soother can be worse than if you weren’t using one! Don’t force the baby to keep using one if they just aren’t interested. We recommend leaving it for a day or two, and then trying again.

Some babies will take a dummy right from the newborn stage, especially if they’re bottle fed, and others might take longer to warm up to one. They might not be interested until three or even six months of age. However, the rule of thumb tends to be to start them earlier than later – as introducing a new habit like a dummy to a six month old can be an even bigger challenge.

If you are breastfeeding, Mothercraft nurse Chris Monroe recommends waiting until your baby is around 4-6 weeks old. This is generally when when a good latch and breastfeeding rhythm is established.

When it comes to soothers, always follow your baby’s cues and remember that every baby is different. Using a soother is a skill that will take time for your baby to master. Always keep it a happy positive experience and eventually they will come to find lots of comfort in their soother. That way, your baby is much less likely to spit it out.

6. Gentle Tap

If your baby is accepting the dummy but it repeatedly falls out of your baby’s mouth, a good trick is to place the dummy in baby’s mouth and then gently press the dummy down toward their bottom lip. Normally this simple tap/press will activate baby’s sucking reflex – they will begin to more actively suck on the dummy to prevent it from falling out.

7. Reverse Psychology

Just like so many things in life, a little reverse psychology might help motivate your baby. Once your baby has the pacifier in their mouth, give it a gentle tug as if you’re going to take the pacifier out. This might kick in some resistance from the baby, and encourage them to keep a pacifier in their mouth.

Benefits of Pacifiers: Are Pacifiers Good for Babies?

The pros

Pacifiers helps soothe baby cries, and sucking can help distract and comfort your baby. It can also soothe fussy sleepers into night long sleep (yes please!). By using a pacifier on flights, your baby’s ears might be able to pop more easily. An ear pop means less pain and thus, less crying.

Many studies show that a pacifier helps prevent Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). By using pacifiers during naps or when they fall asleep, your baby won’t sleep as deeply so they can wake up if they have trouble breathing. Pacifiers also help keep their tongue at the front of your baby’s mouth, so it can’t block the airway while they sleep. But not using a pacifier doesn’t necessarily increase infants risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) either.

The cons

It’s important that if you do choose to go with a pacifier, you make sure you’re confident with pacifier safety. To avoid them being a choking hazard, purchase pacifiers that can’t possibly fall apart. You should also keep replacing them after wear and tear, and follow the recommended age range. Invest in the good stuff, and pacifiers are totally safe. Never tie pacifiers around your baby’s neck or your baby’s crib, as this could be super dangerous. Crib safety at night is hugely important in preventing SIDS.

Pacifier use might disrupt breastfeeding, so it’s worth waiting until your baby is around 4 weeks old and a good latch and breastfeeding routine has been established. But after that, you can keep breastfeeding and introduce a pacifier to your little one.

There’s some evidence that babies who use pacifiers regularly are at higher risk of ear infections, due to the change in pressure in their throat and ears. Some studies say ear infections are three times more with pacifier use.

And if you’re wondering what’s better between thumb sucking and pacifiers, it’s pretty even territory. Neither are perfect, but it’s important to wean your little one (whether they’re a thumb sucker or pacifiers-obsessed) off the habit to suck as they grow up. Long-term sucking habits could lead to jaw misalignment and dental issues.

This is a paid partnership between Kiindred x Medela.

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