Pacifiers can be great parenting tools to help calm fussy babies. The American Academy of Pediatrics even recommends offering a pacifier in the first year of life. But not all pacifiers are created equal. Follow these tips for safe and effective pacifier use.
- Do provide the pacifier at bedtime and naptimes.
- Offer it as you put baby down for sleep. If your baby rejects it, don’t force it. If the pacifier falls out during sleep and your baby doesn’t wake up, don’t reinsert it.
- Make sure the pacifier is clean and in good condition. If it becomes worn or gets sticky, replace it. Tug on the bulb frequently to make sure it’s firmly attached. Replace pacifiers routinely and frequently.
- Never coat a pacifier in any sweet solution.
- Don’t use pacifiers to replace or delay meals. If mother is nursing, be sure her milk supply is firmly established before offering a pacifier to a breastfeeding baby. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends waiting until at least the fourth week of life.
- A pacifier should have ventilation holes to prevent irritation from saliva and a shield that is wider than the child’s mouth. Avoid decorative features that could fall off and pose a choking hazard.
- Never tie a pacifier to the crib or around a child’s neck or hand, as this poses a strangulation hazard. To meet current Consumer Product Safety Commission standards, pacifiers can’t be sold with any string or cord attachment. Pacifier clips are recommended instead.
- Never use a bottle nipple as a pacifier.
- Orthodontic pacifiers are recommended. They are angled with a wide tip, which means that baby’s top and bottom jaw are in the correct position when he’s sucking on it.
- Try different brands and sizes until you find one your baby likes. Start with infant pacifiers at birth and then follow manufacturers’ age recommendations as your baby grows.
Check the Consumer Product Safety Commission for product recalls. A number of pacifiers have been recalled because they posed choking or strangulation hazards.
Reviewed by Dr. Sara Connolly, December 2018
- Provide a baby with a pacifier to help sleep, but if rejected, don’t force it.
- Don’t use a pacifier to delay or replace meals.
- Never tie a pacifier to a crib or around your baby’s neck.
- Replace your baby’s pacifiers as they grow and as often as necessary.