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. Managed properly, this sucking habit can help comfort baby nerves and calm a bored or fussy infant. The most common type of pacifier is made up of three separate parts.
NippleThe nipple is placed inside your baby’s mouth and sucked on; Providing a familiar comfort that is associated with feeding time.
GuardThe 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.
RingThe ring , or handle, provides you with a drool free grip used when you need to remove the pacifier from your baby’s mouth.
Baby pacifier namesMany parents have their own name for their baby’s pacifier.
How do I know if my baby wants a pacifier?Your baby may provide you with clues that the time is right to 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.
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 feedingIf 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 plan on breast feedingIf 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 a pacifier to breastfed babies in the early stages of breast feeding may result in confused sucking by your child. Sucking a pacifier is a very different mouth and tongue action than sucking on a breast. Introducing a pacifier too soon, or swapping from one to another, can confuse some breastfed babies. This is 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 for your newborn you are free to introduce a pacifier at your leisure, depending upon your breastfeeding schedule and milk supply.
How to get your baby to take to a pacifierThe process of introducing a pacifier to your baby is incredibly simple. You just need to remember the three T’s.
TimeSet 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.
TemperamentThe 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.
TouchWith 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.
TasteYour 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.
TypeI 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
How to clean pacifiersUnless the packaging states otherwise, you can clean the majority of baby pacifiers the same way you clean your baby bottles and sippy cups. The sterilization process is exactly the same as well. 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 pacifiersWhat are the best pacifiers for newborns? What are the best pacifiers for bottle fed babies? What are the best pacifiers for breastfed babies? The truth is that baby pacifiers are pretty simple, without many variations, so it’s hard to say which are the best pacifiers for a particular situation, whether one is breastfeeding or not.There are basically two different designs of baby pacifiers:
1. Multiple Piece PacifierIf 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 PacifierAlso 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 during pacifier usage, 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: 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. 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. Many moms report that using feeding pacifiers not only helps a 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. Many mothers report the soft light given off by the pacifier during pacifier usage 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 pacifierYou 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.
SizeBaby 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)
ConstructionThe 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.
Nipple MaterialThe nipple of the pacifier can come in numerous different materials.
SiliconeThe most commonly used material for pacifier nipples. A silicon pacifier nipple is 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.
LatexSofter and more flexible than silicon. Many babies prefer the satisfying feeling of a latex pacifier nipple 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. In the event that your infant has a latex allergy, you can still use a natural rubber (non-latex) or silicone pacifier for your child.
Avoid latex pacifiers if you think your baby may
have a latex allergy.
Hard PlasticThe 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 guardThe guard or shield should measure at least 1 ½ inches. The guard prevents your baby from drawing the nipple into his mouth and choking during pacifier use. A curved shield is sometimes preferred, though designs can vary and it’s not a requirement. 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.
WashableSince 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.
ColorTrust 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 phthalatesOrdinarily 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 buyWhile 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 pacifierColors: Blue, Green, Yellow, Pink, Purple Ages:0-3 months and 3+ months
- Hospital grade silicon
- Single piece construction
- Easy to clean
Best stuffed animal pacifier
- Medical grade silicon
- One piece construction
- Easy to clean
Best multiple piece pacifier
- 3 NUK Puller Pacifiers in one pack - each featuring a unique design.
- True orthodontic asymmetrical nipple shape - naturally fits baby's mouth
- Integrated channels - less palate pressure
- Medical grade silicon
- Easy to clean
Pacifier tips and tricksIf 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.
D.I.Y. Popsicle Pacifier for your babiesA great way to keep your baby cool in summer is to turn your baby’s pacifier into a popsicle by freezing your pacifier. For this to work you will need a hollow silicon or latex pacifier.
- 1Place the nipple between your forefinger and thumb. Squeeze your fingers together, forcing all the air out of the nipple.
- 2With your fingers still together, submerse the pacifier in water and release your fingers. The nipple should slowly draw in water.
- 3Once 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.
- 4Once the water is frozen, give the pacifier to your baby for a refreshing and calming treat.