Table of Contents[Hide][Show]
- How Does a Pacifier Comfort Your Baby?
- Are Pacifiers Good for Babies?
- Pacifier Pros and Cons
- How to Choose the Best Pacifier for Your Baby
- Reviews: The Best Pacifiers
- Don’t Forget the Pacifier Clip
- How Many Pacifiers Should You Buy?
- What to Do If Your Baby Won’t Take a Pacifier
- When Should You Introduce a Pacifier to a Breastfed Baby?
- Best Practices for Using Pacifiers
If your sweet little baby is trying to use you as a pacifier, you might want to consider using a paci. We’ve rounded up the best pacifiers for you to choose from!
As a first-time mom, I was adamant that I wouldn’t give my baby a pacifier.
I had heard it could cause nipple confusion and even interfere with breastfeeding—something that was really important to me. There was no way I was going to give my baby a pacifier.
But after a few weeks of breastfeeding around the clock, I was worn out.
I realized I had become my baby’s pacifier. He definitely had the need to suck to soothe. It was exhausting.
So, in a moment of desperation, I sterilized the pacifier and popped it in his mouth. And I’m happy to report that it worked—like a charm. It helped soothe him and give me a break from the endless comfort sucking.
Then, after a few weeks of using pacifiers, my concerns disappeared.
Using a pacifier did not interfere with our breastfeeding relationship at all; it actually made us both a lot happier and we went on to nurse for over 2 years. While lactation specialists may disagree, the American Academy of Pediatrics states that the idea that pacifier usage will not harm a baby. And in fact, the AAP includes pacifier use in their safe sleep guidelines.
How Does a Pacifier Comfort Your Baby?
Babies have a natural sucking reflex and the sucking motion has an immediate calming and soothing effect. To a newborn, nonnutritive sucking (i.e. comfort sucking) mimics one of the sensations of being in-utero and can calm and soothe them back to a happy state.
That said, there is a difference between nutritive sucking and comfort sucking, and you shouldn’t give a pacifier when your baby is actually hungry. When your newborn is hungry 8-12 times a day, your baby needs nutritive sucking (i.e. breast milk or baby formula) and may want to continue the sucking motion to soothe him as a way to handle the new world of stimulation around him (non-nutritive sucking).
That’s why many parents (myself included now) are big believers in using pacifiers for newborns.
Are Pacifiers Good for Babies?
Pacifier use is not harmful to babies, so long as they are not used to delay meals. According to the AAP, “Pacifiers do not cause any medical or psychological problems if your baby wants to suck beyond what nursing or bottle feeding provides, a pacifier will satisfy that need.”
Pacifier Pros and Cons
Here is a look at both the advantages and disadvantages of giving your baby a pacifier.
Pros of using a pacifier:
- A calmer, happier baby: A pacifier can help soothe and calm babies, allowing them to gain control and feel more at ease as they learn how to respond to the new stimuli in the world.
- Pacifiers may reduce the risk of SIDS: Studies have found that using a pacifier during naps and nighttime sleeping reduces the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). Dr. Rachel Moon explains that using a pacifier reduces the risk of SIDS even if the pacifier falls out of the baby’s mouth after falling asleep. There is no need to put the pacifier back in the baby’s mouth.
- Pacifiers help your baby sleep: If you nurse your baby to sleep, sometimes your baby will wake up as soon as you put him down in his bassinet/crib. We’ve all been there. As soon as her head hits the mattress, and you’ve managed to tiptoe to the doorway, she starts to fidget and fuss. If she takes a pacifier, you can pop one in her mouth to calm her back down without having to nurse her again (assuming she isn’t hungry).
- They may help you breastfeed your baby longer: A study published in the Journal of Human Lactation explains that mothers who have postpartum depression or are at higher risk for PPD, did better with breastfeeding if their baby also took a pacifier. The study concludes that “pacifiers may help protect against early cessation of EBF among mothers at high risk for depression”.
- Pacifier use reduces pressure in ears during travel: Using a pacifier while traveling in an airplane can help make the flight more comfortable for your little one, especially during take-off and landing. The sucking motion helps relieve the pressure in the ears. (This can also be achieved if you breastfeed your baby during takeoff and landing while traveling by air).
Cons of using a pacifier:
- They may contribute to ear infections: Studies show that pacifier use can increase the risk of ear infections. The sucking motion changes the pressure behind the ear and this, in turn, can lead to fluid buildup in the middle ear, and subsequently, lead to an ear infection.
- Pacifiers can affect dental health: Extended use of pacifiers can negatively impact your child’s dental health, altering the shape of your child’s teeth. This is especially the case after the age of 4 when pacifier use can have a significantly long-lasting negative impact on your child’s dental health.
- Dependency: Babies love the sucking motion, so the pacifier can quickly become a constant craving. Too much dependence on pacifiers can lead to many problems for parents. Babies can become hysterical if their pacifier falls out of their mouth and there isn’t a spare one around. Also, the more dependent your little one is on the pacifier, the harder it will be to wean him off of it.
- Oral issues: Pacifier use may contribute to oral formation issues if used incorrectly or overused.
Related: The Best Probiotics for Babies
How to Choose the Best Pacifier for Your Baby
Here’s what to look for in a pacifier:
- Orthodontic design is a must. Choose a pacifier that is orthodontic and supports proper development of teeth and gums.
- Only choose one-piece pacifiers. Look for one-piece pacifiers. Those constructed as one piece have less risk of falling apart in your baby’s mouth and becoming a choking hazard. Multiple piece construction pacifiers also can be more difficult to keep clean as dirt and grime can hide in all the little crevices.
- Choose a pacifier that is age-appropriate. Make sure to pay attention to the age listed on the pacifier package. If it says 0-3 and your baby is 6 months old, the pacifier would pose a choking hazard. Always size up according to your baby’s age.
- Check the width. Make sure the pacifier you choose is at least one and a half inches wide (for a newborn) so that it cannot fall into your baby’s mouth and pose as a choking hazard.
- Avoid plastic pacifiers. Look for a pacifier that does not contain any plastic parts, both for safety and to avoid chemical exposure. I prefer silicone or natural rubber pacifiers.
- Medical-grade silicone is best. When buying a silicone pacifier, consider using only medical-grade silicone pacifiers like these or these. While food-grade silicone can also be safe and inert, there are higher material and manufacturing standards for medical-grade silicone.
- Consider your family’s history of allergies. Trying to decide between silicone or natural rubber? Natural rubber pacifiers are made of natural latex rubber from the Hevea brasilienis tree. (Consider potential latex allergies when buying a natural rubber pacifier.) Natural rubber products will wear out over time. On the other hand, silicone pacifiers are synthetic but will keep their shape and will not expand with time as rubber might. Silicone also does not soak up odors or have a “taste” as some rubber might.
- Avoid scented pacifiers. For reasons I still can’t figure out, some companies make scented pacifiers. Vanilla scent seems to be the most common. So just pay close attention when shopping to avoid scented pacifiers.
Reviews: The Best Pacifiers
With your baby’s safety and comfort in mind, here are the best pacifiers on the market that are made with the safest materials and construction. All of these pacifiers are one-piece pacifiers that are made with silicone or natural rubber.
Made in the USA. This silicone pacifier is one-piece construction and is used in hospitals nationwide. They are very durable, easy to clean, and made for babies ages newborn through age 18 months.
- Made from 100% medical grade silicone
- Distributed by hospitals nationwide
- One-piece construction
- Designed for newborns and babies who still don’t have teeth
- Orthodontic rounded nipple
- They offer sizes up to 18 months old
Buy at Amazon
Made in China. Offering more than just a cute pacifier, Ryan & Rose pacifiers can also double as teething toys. With a one-piece hygienic design, this pacifier also offers safety and peace of mind.
- 100% medical-grade silicone
- Free of phthalates
- Stage 1 is for babies without teeth
- Stage 2 is for babies with teeth
Buy at Amazon
Made in Malaysia. This natural pacifier is orthodontic and made from 100% natural rubber latex. The cutouts in shapes of stars and moons serve as ventilation holes to help prevent rashes around your baby’s mouth.
- 100% natural rubber latex from the Hevea brasilienis tree
- Available in orthodontic, rounded, or symmetrical nipples
- One-piece construction
- This brand also makes pacifiers for toddlers up to 36 months
Made in Italy. The Chicco PhysioForma pacifier is one-piece, silicone construction. This pacifier is a bit heavier than some of the other newborn pacifiers such as NUK, but it features an ergonomic shield and a nipple with tiny ridges to help soothe your baby.
- Orthodontic nipple that features tiny ridges to help facilitate even distribution of the tongue’s pressure against the mouth’s palate
- Features an ergonomic shield with ventilation holes to prevent skin irritation
- Designed for ages 0-6 months
Buy at Amazon
Made in the USA. These NUK pacifiers are made of silicone, one-piece construction, and sit close to the baby’s mouth. Most babies are easily able to keep these in their mouths because they are small and lightweight.
- Made from 100% silicone
- One-piece construction
- Features orthodontic-shaped nipple that supports natural oral development
- Features scoop nipple cavity which promotes correct teeth alignment
- This particular pacifier is size 0-3 months old.
The biggest complaint about this particular pacifier is that the company does not make the same one or similar type of pacifier for babies over 6 months old, leaving some desperate parents searching for a new pacifier their baby will like once he/she hits 6 months. They have a similar pacifier that is suitable for 0-6 months old.
Buy at Amazon
Made in Italy. This rubber pacifier has two nipple options and is a one-piece construction, making it a safe choice for your baby.
- 100% natural rubber from the tree, Hevea brasilienis.
- Free of PVC, BPA, artificial coloring, chemical softeners, phthalates, and nitrosamines.
- Available in orthodontic and rounded nipples.
- One-piece construction.
- It’s recommended to replace every 6-8 weeks.
- This company also sells pacifiers of different sizes, appropriate for babies up to 12 months.
Note: Some customers notice that the pacifier shield is a bit big, but it is actually an important part of the design—the pacifier will graze your baby’s nose the same way your baby would feel a gentle touch on the nose while breastfeeding. Natursutten also claims that they eliminate the latex protein during production, so if your baby has a latex allergy, he/she may not react to this one. (But if you suspect that your baby is sensitive or allergic to latex, please consult your child’s pediatrician before trying this pacifier.) This company rigorously tests all of their products using ConsumerLab in Denmark to fully comply with European standards.
Buy at Amazon
Made in Malaysia. These rubber pacifiers might seem on the large side, but the pacifier shield is actually designed to mimic the sensation of nursing by ever so slightly touching your baby’s nose as he uses the pacifier.
- 100% natural rubber
- One-piece construction
- Free from PVC, BPA, paraben and phthalates, colorants, and chemical softeners
- Ecopiggy makes both orthodontic and rounded nipples
- They offer two sizes: 0-6 months, and 6 months and up
Buy at Amazon
Made in China. These one-piece, all-silicone pacifiers tend to be popular with pickier babies.
- 100% silicone
- One-piece construction
- Smaller sized, perfect for newborns
- Available in several colors
Don’t Forget the Pacifier Clip
As a first time mom, I went way too long without knowing about pacifier clips. (How I got by for months without knowing I should have a pacifier clip is beyond me. I wish I had a village back then!)
Please don’t be like me and be sure to buy one from the beginning.
Pacifier clips can literally save the day and they’re really easy to use. A pacifier clip secures your little one’s favorite pacifier to their clothing or blanket to ensure that it stays nearby and doesn’t fall to the floor.
How Many Pacifiers Should You Buy?
It’s a good idea to have a few pacifiers on hand because they’ll fall on the floor, get wedged into car seats, and somehow manage to disappear. Keep pacifiers on hand in a variety of places such as your diaper bag, the nursery, and car seat.
Additionally, it may take you a couple of attempts before finding a pacifier that your baby takes to. Be patient, give your baby time to get used to the pacifier, and be willing to try more than one brand if necessary.
I would recommend choosing 1-2 brands of pacifiers and having at least two of each on hand until you know what brand your baby takes. After you’ve gotten your baby to take a pacifier, it’s not unheard of to own 10 or more pacifiers (depending on how often your baby uses one).
What to Do If Your Baby Won’t Take a Pacifier
Speaking from experience, not all babies will take a pacifier. My first son loved his pacifier and then stopped using it abruptly at 8 months of age. My second son never took to the pacifier at all, despite my numerous attempts.
To introduce a pacifier, I recommend touching it to her cheek to encourage her to turn and root toward the pacifier. If that doesn’t work, you can try placing it in your baby’s mouth firmly, with the tip of the pacifier pointed toward the roof of your baby’s mouth. A light hold on the pacifier won’t work (for some unknown reason…). I guess I didn’t have the magic touch because I struggled with this, but my husband was a pro at getting the baby to take a pacifier.
If you are breastfeeding and your baby falls asleep on the breast, you can try to swap your breast for a pacifier by inserting the pacifier as you remove your breast.
Another tip is to be patient and try a few different pacifiers. Your baby may not take to the first pacifier that you try and they may not take it when they’re crying. Keep going and give others a try until you find one that your baby is happy with.
And if you’re still unable to get your baby to take a pacifier, try again in a week or two.
When Should You Introduce a Pacifier to a Breastfed Baby?
Introduce the pacifier after the mother’s milk supply has been fully established, and both mom and baby are comfortable with breastfeeding. This is usually two to four weeks after your baby is born. Introducing the pacifier earlier than that may lead to nipple confusion.
If your baby is using a bottle from the beginning, you can use a pacifier as soon as you would like.
Best Practices for Using Pacifiers
- Replace your pacifiers every few months. They can wear down over time, which poses a choking hazard.
- Examine the pacifier before putting it in your baby’s mouth. With clean hands, tug on the nipple in all directions to make sure there are no cracks, holes, or weak spots. This is especially important if your baby has teeth.
- Purchase a pacifier that is suitable for your baby’s age. Do not buy a 0-3 month pacifier for your 6-month-old, for example. The age ranges are specific for a reason and become a safety hazard if not age appropriate. For example, newborn pacifiers are typically more flexible and softer than pacifiers for older babies. If an older baby – especially a baby who has teeth—used the newborn pacifier, he could tear it and possibly choke.
- Never create a makeshift pacifier. Do not tape a nipple onto something to create a makeshift pacifier.
- Never tie a pacifier around your baby’s neck.
- If you use a pacifier clip, do not let your baby sleep with the pacifier clip as this can be a strangulation hazard.
- Upon first use, many companies recommend you sterilize that pacifier in boiling water to get any germs or manufacturing residues off of the pacifier. Check your pacifier’s instructions as each pacifier is a little different. After that, regularly wash the pacifier with soap and hot water to prevent germs from accumulating.
- Start to wean your child off the pacifier by the age of 6 months to one year.
- Do not sweeten the pacifier and give it to your child as that will lead to tooth decay and an array of dental problems.
That’s my list of the best pacifiers. I hope you found some that work for your precious little one!