What You Need To Know About Your Baby’s Pacifier

Parents of pacifier-loving babies may enjoy a love-hate relationship with that hunk of plastic. 

On one hand, hooray for soothing babies, reducing the risk of SIDs, and, in general, creating a happy baby. But on the other hand, pacifiers aren't exactly the easiest thing in the world to deal with, you know? There are germs and concerns with teeth coming in and all that fun stuff. 

So what are some of the “rules” when it comes to pacifier care?

I talked to pediatric dentist Dr. John Davis to find out. 

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Image via Flickr/ mliu92

First off — what are some of the advantages to using a pacifier?

In addition to soothing and reducing the risk of SIDS, Dr. Davis explains that some babies simply enjoy pacifiers because of their sucking reflexes. These sucking reflexes develop at the 32nd week of pregnancy and fully develop in the 36th week,” he explained. “Sometimes, you can even see babies in the womb sucking their thumbs in an ultrasound.”

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Personally, although I offered a pacifier to all four of my babies, not one of them “took” to it — and that can be totally normal. Traits like thumb sucking or preference for a pacifier can differ by each individual child and may even have a genetic link as well. 

Pacifiers can also be beneficial to ward of teething pain and help babies learn how to swallow, says Dr. Davis. “When babies suck or chew on something like a pacifier or teether, the pressure provides relief from the discomfort of new teeth forming,” he noted.  

Which pacifier is best? 

Ah — the million dollar question. Not all pacifiers are created equal, and you may have to experiment to find a pacifier that your baby will prefer. Some tips include:

  • Buy age-specific pacifiers.
  • Pacifiers with a thin pacifier stem are less intrusive to a baby’s developing teeth.
  • As your child's teeth come in, consider pacifiers like the PreVent pacifier, which works to help minimize the pressure inside baby's mouth that can sometimes create dental issues such as cross bites. “The suction-free air channel also helps reduce suction and palatal pressure to aid in comfort for baby,” said Dr. Davis, who helped design the pacifier. 

 How should I care for my baby’s pacifiers?

  • If you start to see any wear on your pacifiers, especially in the stem, throw out the pacifier to prevent any choking hazard. 
  • Don't use the same pacifier every day. Wash it in the sink or put in the dishwasher to kill germs after each day of use.

As your baby outgrows his/her pacifier, you can switch to a teether to still get the benefits of reducing teething discomfort and soothing your baby. Look for teethers that can reach the entire mouth (like the back, where molars come in) for the most effective relief. 

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Did your baby use a pacifier? 

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What You Need To Know About Your Baby’s Pacifier

Chaunie Brusie is a writer, mom of four, and founder of The Stay Strong Mom, a community + gift box service for moms after loss. ... More

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