Are you a new parent looking for a way to comfort your baby? A pacifier may be the very thing you need to keep your baby calm and content.
But how do you choose the perfect pacifier for your baby? This guide covers everything you need to know.
Use the links below to navigate to the appropriate section of the guide. Otherwise, read from top to bottom, it’s all great information.
- A beginners guide to the pacifier
- The different types of pacifiers.
- What to look for when buying a pacifier.
- The best pacifiers.
- Pacifier Tips and tricks.
- Pacifier safety.
Okay, with the introduction out of the way, lets jump right into the meat of it.
What is a pacifier?
A pacifier is essentially a nipple on a handle that is designed to comfort and entertain your baby.
While some babies only suckle during feedings, others will want to suck on a nipple or baby bottle even after feeding time is over. This suckling can help pacify (guess what inspired the pacifiers name?) an irritated baby.
The most common type of pacifier is made up of three separate parts.
The nipple is placed inside your baby’s mouth and sucked on; Providing a familiar comfort that is associated with feeding time.
The guard (also known as a shield) prevents your baby from drawing the whole nipple into the mouth, which could result in a potential choking hazard.
The ring , or handle, provides you with a drool free grip used when you need to remove the pacifier from your baby’s mouth.
Many parents have their own name for their baby’s pacifier.
And that is just a few of the more commonly used names. Your baby may even give the pacifier his own name as he learns to pronounce words and sounds.
How to tell if your baby needs a pacifier?
Your baby may provide you with clues that the time is right introduce a pacifier.
If your baby:
- Happily suckles on a baby bottle, even when empty.
- Suckles on your breast but does not draw milk and is irritable when pulled away.
- Sucks on his fingers or thumbs.
- Sucks on the corner of blankets or toys.
Then your baby may be the perfect candidate for a pacifier.
Unfortunately, not all babies will drop hints that they would like a pacifier. This means that you may not know if a pacifier will calm your baby until you try introducing it.
At what age can a baby start using a pacifier?
The appropriate time to introduce a pacifier will vary depending on whether or not you plan on breastfeeding your child.
If you plan on bottle feeding:
If bottle feeding is the better option for you then you can give your baby a pacifier straight away. Some experts recommend learning your baby’s cues indicating pain, gas, hunger and a need for sleep before introducing a pacifier. The same experts recommend that you hold off until you have seen weight gain, which can be as early as 10 days old.
If you do plan on breast feeding:
If you do decide to breast feed then many experts recommend that you hold off introducing a pacifier for six weeks; or until you are happy with your newborns breast feeding routine.
The reason for the delay is that introducing pacifier in the early stages of breast feeding may result in nipple confusion.
Sucking a pacifier is a very different mouth and tongue action than the sucking on a breast. Swapping from one to another can confuse some babies, known as nipple confusion. You don’t want your baby sucking on your breast incorrectly and going hungry.
With a healthy nursing routine in place you are free to introduce a pacifier at your leisure.
How to get your baby to take to a pacifier
The process of introducing a pacifier to your baby is incredibly simply. You just need to remember the three T’s.
Set aside a time to introduce your baby to the pacifier. It should be after your baby has been fed but not too close to the next meal.
The next variable you need to overcome is your baby’s mood. Introduce the pacifier when your baby is feeling calm and content. If your infant is upset or crying, hold off until his mood improves.
With the above two T’s taken care of it is time to introduce your baby to the pacifier. Touch the pacifier to your baby’s cheek, just a little further back from the corner of the mouth. Your baby should instinctively turn towards the pacifier and begin to suckle.
Seems simple, right? Unfortunately not all babies immediately take to a pacifier. Below are some of the reasons why babies refuse to use a pacifier. To keep the trend going, they also start with T.
Your baby may initially reject the pacifier nipple because the taste is new and confusing.
Try dipping the pacifier in breast milk or formula before introducing it. Once your baby associates the pacifier with a familiar and reassuring taste he may just never give it up.
I am sure you are already aware of this but your little baby is a unique individual. Just because one type of pacifier was adored by another baby does not mean your baby will be a take to it.
Experiment with a few different pacifiers before throwing in the towel. You may find that your baby is rejecting the pacifier because of the texture, shape, or even color!
If your baby resists using a pacifier then don’t force it, simply try again at a later date. If your baby still refuses the pacifier after numerous attempts then you may have to respect your baby’s choice and find an alternate remedy to keep your baby calm and content.
How often should a pacifier be replaced?
Pacifier nipples will eventually wear down with continued use. How quickly the pacifier needs to be replaced will depend on how vigorously and how often your baby sucks the pacifier.
Signs that your baby’s pacifier needs replacing include:
- Holes or tears in the nipple.
- Discolored areas.
- Stretched nipple
- Plastic has turned jagged on guard or handle.
- A piece of the pacifier is loose.
- Nipple is sticky, even after thoroughly washing.
Look for these warning signs each and every time you offer a pacifier to your baby. Be sure to pull on the nipple from time to time to make sure that it is still firmly attached to the base.
If you do not replace pacifiers as they age then you risk the nipple (or any other part of the pacifier) breaking off when sucked, putting your baby at risk of choking.
Fortunately most pacifiers are quite cheap to purchase and will not put a dent in your wallet.
How to clean pacifiers
After you have cleaned your pacifier you may notice that there is still water or condensation inside the nipple. This is normal. As long as you have squeezed as much water out of the pacifier as nipple as possible, this will eventually dry out. Simply leave the nipple in a dry, well ventilated area.
Using multiple pacifiers can be an advantage as you can swap pacifiers over while allowing the pacifiers you have washed adequate time to dry.
Always wash and sanitize a brand new pacifier before introducing it to your baby. This will need to be done each and every time you buy a new pacifier.
Different types of Pacifiers
There are two different designs of baby pacifiers:
1. Multiple Piece Pacifier
If someone told you to think of a pacifier image in your head, chances are you would think of this. The multiple piece is the most common pacifier on the market.
It is referred to as a multiple piece pacifier as the individual components (nipple, guard and handle) are all pieces are manufactured individually before being combined into the pacifier you see here.
2. Single Piece Pacifier
Also known as one piece pacifiers, these pacifiers are made out of a single molded piece of plastic, silicone or latex (Or any combination of the three).
The appeal of single piece pacifiers is that they cannot come apart, minimizing the risk of your baby choking on his pacifier.
The above pacifiers can come in all manner of creative shapes and designs. Some of the more popular styles of baby pacifier include:
Stuffed Animal Pacifier
How do you make a pacifier even more appealing to your baby? You combine the pacifier with a Stuffed animal.
This style of pacifier has only been on market for a few years but is quickly becoming a favorite among parents and babies alike.
You should check out the different styles of plush animal pacifiers here.
Soothe your baby and entertain onlookers at once with a novelty pacifier.
Available in all kinds of funny and unique designs from moustaches to crooked teeth, these pacifiers will bring a smile to your face every time you glance at your baby.
Novelty pacifiers are a great way to dress your baby up for a costume party or Halloween.
You can find a huge range of novelty pacifiers here.
Once your baby hits six months then he can be fed by pacifier as well.
Perfect for the warmer months, simply freeze pieces of fruit before placing them in the feeding pacifier. Your baby will receive a refreshing, fruity flavor as he sucks away.
Many moms report that using feeding pacifiers not only helps fussy baby’s transition to solid food but results in less mess to be cleaned up during mealtime as well. You can find more information on feeding pacifiers here.
Glow in the dark pacifier
Glow in the dark pacifiers do just what their name suggests, they give off a lovely glow in dark surroundings.
Many mothers report the soft light given off by the pacifier actually helps their baby to sleep, similar to a night light.
As an added bonus, glow in the dark pacifiers are super easy to find if your baby drops his pacifier in the dark.
You can find a huge range of glow in the dark pacifiers here.
Things to look out for when choosing a pacifier
You are probably thinking that a pacifier is one of the more simple pieces of baby equipment to buy. You would be correct. There are, however, some important points to consider when deciding on the best pacifier for your baby.
Baby pacifiers are sized by age group. These ages are generally:
- Six months or younger (Small)
- Six to 18 months (Medium)
- 18 months and older (Large)
How pacifier sizing works will vary greatly depending on the brand. I highly recommend sticking to the recommended age when choosing a pacifier.
A pacifier that is too big can cause a choking hazard while one that is too small may be rejected by your baby.
While some pacifiers are suitable for babies of all ages others only cater to a specific age group. Pay attention to the recommended age bracket on each pacifier. A pacifier used outside of this recommendation may not effectively calm your baby or worse, prove to be unsafe to use.
The construction of anything that enters your baby’s mouth is hugely important. As mentioned above, many pacifiers are made up of three separate pieces. Should your baby’s pacifier fall apart, it poses a significant choking hazard.
If your baby’s pacifier is made up of multiple pieces, give the nipple a good tug. If the nipple detaches then your baby will eventually be able to remove it too.
Many pacifiers are now designed in a single piece. The result is a baby pacifier that will not fall apart. Single piece pacifiers are considered to be the safest type of pacifier.
The nipple of the pacifier can come in numerous different materials.
Silicone: The most commonly used material for pacifier nipples. Silicon easy to clean and is less prone to retaining odors.
Silicone pacifiers can generally be cleaned in a dishwasher cycle unless it states otherwise on the packaging.
Latex: Softer and more flexible than silicon. Many babies prefer the satisfying feeling of latex to silicon. Due to its soft nature, latex pacifier nipples can wear out faster than other materials.
Latex pacifiers are generally not dishwasher-safe unless it states otherwise on the packaging.Warning: Avoid latex pacifiers if you think your baby may have a latex allergy.
Hard Plastic: The least common material used to create pacifier nipples. Plastic is long wearing and easy to clean. The downsides are that many babies will reject a plastic pacifier nipple. An even worse outcome is that the plastic can develop a jagged edge, cutting the inside of your baby’s delicate mouth.
Type of guard
The guard or shield should measure at least 1 ½ inches. The guard prevents your baby from drawing the nipple into his mouth and choking.
The guard of the pacifier should contain ventilation holes. These holes allow air to circulate between the guard and your baby’s face which helps prevent moisture rash.
Since a dummy is going to spend a generous amount of time in your baby’s mouth, you are going to want to keep it clean and sterile.
Choosing a pacifier that can be boiled or is dishwasher safe will cut down on cleaning time significantly.
Trust me, you will lose a lot of pacifiers. This could be from your baby spitting out the pacifier and it rolling under the couch or you simply misplacing it.
I recommend avoiding clear pacifiers as these are very easy to lose. A brightly colored pacifier will be much easier to spot at a glance.
Pacifiers are like pens and socks. They will mysteriously disappear and leave you scratching your head as to where on earth it could have gone.
If you find a particular type of pacifier that your baby absolutely loves, do not hesitate to stock up on it.
You don’t need to worry about BPA or phthalates
Ordinarily you would be told to avoid baby products that don’t proclaim they are BPA or phthalate free.
Pacifiers buck this trend. Phthalates have not been used in pacifiers sold in the United States since 1999. As for BPA, well, most pacifier nipples are made from latex or silicone. These materials generally don’t contain BPA. Just because a pacifier doesn’t proudly proclaim it is free from these nasties does not mean that it contains them.
The best pacifiers that money can buy
While each baby will have a favorite pacifier, there are a variety of highly recommended pacifiers on the market. Below I have listed the top pacifiers around. Each of these pacifiers is used by hospitals across the US. How’s that for a recommendation?
Best single piece pacifier
The pacifier by Philips is one of the most popular on the market. Constructed from soft medical grade silicon you will find this pacifier incredibly easy to clean, no matter how much your baby tries to gunk it up.
The single piece design adheres to the American Academy of Pediatrics recommendations.
Best stuffed animal pacifier
WubbaNub Animal Pacifier
Styles: many different animals to choose from.
Age: Up to 6 months.
- Medical grade silicon.
- One piece construction.
- Easy to clean.
All the appeal of the philips pacifier above with a soft toy attached. The stuffed animal will make it easy for you to spot your baby’s pacifier should it fall to the ground.
Despite the added stuffed animal, the pacifier is incredibly easy to clean. Simply throw the pacifier in a mesh bag and place in your washing machine on a gentle cycle.
The only thing that prevented this pacifier taking out first place was the price. For the price of this pacifier you can buy at least six of the philips pacifiers. If you are not put off by price then this is the pacifier for you.
Best multiple piece pacifier
Styles: many different styles to choose from.
- Medical grade silicon.
- Easy to clean.
A favorite among many mothers, the Nuk baby pacifier is orthodontic to help promote healthy oral development. The nipple of this pacifier is designed to emulate the nipple of a breast, resulting in a natural and familiar fit.
Nuk offers four different sizes of pacifier, the largest size range of pacifiers listed. The idea behind this is that as your infant grows, there is a pacifier to suit the stage of development.
Pacifier tips and tricks
If your baby drops his pacifier on the floor of your house, it is fine to simply rinse it off with hot water before giving it to your baby. If your baby drops the pacifier outside the house, clean it in hot and soapy water.
Set aside a dedicated spot to store your pacifiers. Like your car keys, pacifiers are easily misplaced. By only storing your baby’s pacifiers in one location, you reduce the likelihood of them being lost.
A great way to keep your baby cool in summer is to turn your babes pacifier into a popsicle by freezing your pacifier. For this to work you will need a hollow silicon or latex pacifier.
- Place the nipple between your forefinger and thumb. Squeeze your fingers together, forcing all the air out of the nipple.
- With your fingers still together, submerse the pacifier in water and release your fingers. The nipple should slowly draw in water.
- Once your nipple is filled with water, place the pacifier upside down in the freezer. You want all the water to sit in the top of the nipple.
- Once the water is frozen, give the pacifier to your baby for a refreshing and calming treat.
Just like with any baby product, pacifiers will require you to take specific precautions.
Don’t attach the pacifier to your baby
Never tie a pacifier to any part of your baby, clothing, crib, car seat, etc. The string can easily get tangled around your baby’s neck, resulting in a strangulation hazard.
Don’t sugar coat it
Never coat your baby’s pacifier in any substance, especially sweets such as honey or jam. You will risk cavities forming in your baby’s developing teeth.
Avoid the gimmicks
Avoid buying pacifiers that have unnecessary features attached. Extras such as tassels, beads or glitter can easily become detached and harm your baby.
You are not MacGyver
Never try to create your own pacifier, even when in a bind. While taping a nipple to a plastic bottle top may seem like a great way to calm your baby, it could come apart. The loose nipple could easily get caught in your baby’s throat, resulting in suffocation.