Help my baby suck ... On something other than me
May 7, 2013 9:10 PM   Subscribe

My 6.5 week old baby wants to suck and suck. Attempts at introducing a pacifier have been met with gags. She tries to get her fingers in there but just can't quite coordinate it. That leaves me. I'm often but not always willing to play this game, and soon have to go back to work. Suggestions?

Relevant: she has silent reflux and is on Zantac twice a day, which seems to help. She is mostly breastfed. She takes a bottle occasionally without complaint as long as I'm not giving it to her. We have been coalescing mostly to this point, but I'd like to transition her to the bassinet in the next couple weeks and her own room by 12 weeks - I have to go back to work and I'd like my husband back in my bed. She sleeps fine on her own during the day, and will go an hour or two in the bassinet/rock and play at night before she stirs and needs to suck to go back to sleep.

I'm fine with her sucking her thumb. Or a pacifier. I just want someone else to be able to get her to sleep easily. Her sister was a pacifier kid by this age. Is there a strategy here? How old are babies when they can coordinate thumb sucking? Should we just keep cosleeping until that happens? Can I do something to get the pacifier to work? (We have tried three kinds). Help?
posted by dpx.mfx to Health & Fitness (11 answers total)
Do you mean that she constantly wants to breastfeed or constantly wants to suck on your finger?

Regardless, I think that things hit a stride around 8 weeks. You're almost there and there may be some changes that will help. I don't think my baby was very interested in a pacifier at 6.5 weeks but she did occasionally like to take a finger. I think it was around 8 weeks that I started trying to put a little distance between feeds and that's when the finger or a paci came into play. At some point when she was little, she got a cold and rejected the paci completely -- stuffy nose means she couldn't breath otherwise. And we did away with it then...maybe around 5 months?

She's ended up not sucking on anything which is pretty great. Though there were sleepless nights when we really tried to force the paci back on her in a vain attempt to quiet her.

Do you have any help?
posted by amanda at 9:17 PM on May 7, 2013

Also, she may just be in the typical 6-week growth spurt and extra-hungry right now. You say she takes a bottle -- can she take a bottle with someone else for some sleeps?
posted by amanda at 9:23 PM on May 7, 2013 [3 favorites]

Experiment with different dummy shapes - ours seemed very uninterested until we came home with about ten different types one day, and hit upon the shape that worked for her. It was invaluable for us at those <6 months stages.
posted by smoke at 9:31 PM on May 7, 2013 [3 favorites]

I find that once the baby is in 'suck mode', that is the best time to switch out the breast and switch in the pacifier.

Have you tried waiting until she is right in the midst of a sucking session (meaning once she has finished eating and is just using you as a pacifier, which I'm assuming is what you are talking about here), and maybe a little bit drowsy, and then sneaking the pacifier into her mouth? It seems like at that point it is really hard for the baby not to suck on anything you put in there at that point. I think it helps if you lightly touch the tip of the pacifier to the upper lip as you slide it in, and aim a little bit upwards towards the palate instead of straight back into the mouth - these are attempts to stimulate sucking reflexes. If she likes bottles, then she can definitely handle a pacifier, it must be more a psychological thing causing the gag.

And if my 3 month old is any indication, it seems that sticking the entire hand in the mouth can happen (and work for soothing) before thumb sucking can.
posted by treehorn+bunny at 10:40 PM on May 7, 2013

Response by poster: Yes, she wants to use my breast as a pacifier, particularly to fall asleep. She doesn't fall asleep while eating a bottle,I presume because of the quicker flow. I do have help - I get lots of sleep during the day and will start trading night feedings with my husband before going back to work. Really I just wonder how to help her satisfy nonnutritive sucking needs some other way. Thanks for the tips on the paci - we have tried two shapes but will look for others. And aiming for the palate makes sense. And 8 weeks isn't that far off :) thanks everyone.
posted by dpx.mfx at 12:38 AM on May 8, 2013

I'm a mom of two silent refluxers who also had protein allergies that exacerbated the reflux problem. Have you talked to your pediatrician about the constant need to suck? It's a classic sign that the reflux is still not under control. She may be feeling better, so no screaming, but still suffering. Zantac dosing is very weight sensitive - even a single pound could make her dose ineffective. Please ask for a pediatric GI referral. As good as a general ped is, I strongly believe reflux needs to be treated by a GI.

If you want to talk, feel free to MeMail. Reflux babies are hard.
posted by PorcineWithMe at 3:21 AM on May 8, 2013 [1 favorite]

My daughter has silent reflux too, and really likes her pacifier. If you can find one, try a preemie pacifier - they are smaller than newborn ones and are less likely to make her gag.
posted by peanut_mcgillicuty at 3:51 AM on May 8, 2013

If I was a baby, and I was used to a normal sized human nipple, a (relatively) giant pacifier would make me gag too. I would try different models.
posted by gjc at 6:46 AM on May 8, 2013

Standard baby bottle nipples don't require the kind of hard sucking that breasts do. Can you find bottle nipples with smaller holes, or with no holes so you could create a tiny one yourself?
posted by mareli at 6:58 AM on May 8, 2013

A friend had good luck with this pacifier. It's for babies 0-6 months and has a different texture/feeling than most pacifiers. This one is for 0-3 months and has good reviews too. I'd probably buy 10 of the best-rated soothers on Amazon. Make sure to try them each a few times - transitions don't always happen the first time.
posted by barnone at 7:23 AM on May 8, 2013

I recommend that you try a Natursutten natural rubber pacifier in a small size. It's the Rolls Royce of pacifiers, and feels completely different from the regular ones, especially in softness.
posted by rada at 10:34 AM on May 8, 2013

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