Your baby is perfect, precious, and delicate. Knowing which baby pacifier is best for your little one's unique needs can be daunting. When it comes to baby essentials, moms and dads often get advice from friends, strangers, and everyone in between about what's best for the baby. But how do you choose?
To help you decide on the best baby pacifier to fit your needs, we gathered intel from doctors and experts like the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP), Mayo Clinic, and Cleveland Clinic. We also gleaned information from parenting blogs and a couple.
Before adding a pacifier to your baby essentials, learn about if it's bad for baby, materials, safety, shield shape, nipple shape, and style.
Are pacifiers bad for babies?
Should pacifiers even be part of your baby essentials? It depends on who you ask. AAFP says it largely depends on the age of your baby. For example, for babies up to six months, it can reduce the risk of SIDS. However, it says to avoid a baby or newborn pacifier until breastfeeding is established (usually by one month). View their chart on pros and cons of pacifiers by age for a full exploration. One concern that some parents have with using binkies is ear infections. Pediatrician W. Kyle Mudd, DO with the Cleveland Clinic, says, "It's not a huge risk, but it does happen." Experts say babies 6-12 months old who use binkies may have an increased risk of ear infections due to fluid buildup in the ears.
As for pacifiers and teeth, we turned to dental specialists. If they are used at the correct ages, then pacifiers should not negatively impact children's teeth. In general, most experts agree that children should not start using pacifiers until breastfeeding is established (2 weeks-1 month) and should stop using pacifiers by age 2. There are also orthodontic pacifiers crafted with children's teeth development in mind.
Here's when various experts are recommending you stop the use of a pacifier:
American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD)
- stop by age 36 months or younger.
American Dental Association (ADA)
- stop by age 2
American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP)
- wean after 6 months, discourage use after age 1
What about breastfeeding? One common concern is nipple confusion, hindering the ability to latch onto a breast. "To avoid this 'nipple confusion,'" Dr. Mudd says, "I recommend avoiding pacifiers for the first two to four weeks after a baby is born. Once breastfeeding is well established, it's fine to use a pacifier."
What material should I choose?
Should I use a silicone pacifier? Silicone is a very common material for baby pacifiers, like Chicco. Some parents prefer silicone for their baby essentials because odor does not cling to it as easily, and they can also usually be washed in a dishwasher. Babies may reject silicone binkies because they are stiffer than other materials like a latex or natural rubber pacifier.
Should I use a latex pacifier? Babies often prefer latex pacifiers, like NUK pacifiers, over silicone because it's softer and feels closer to a real nipple. However, it may wear out faster and is often not dishwasher-safe. It's important to remember that some infants have a rare latex allergy and should not use pacifiers that contain this material.
Should I use a natural rubber pacifier? Rubber pacifiers, like a Natursutten pacifier, are made from pure natural rubber milk (also called latex.) Real latex is natural and derived directly from the rubber tree, Hevea brasiliensis. All products made from "natural rubber" that is not latex are made from a synthetic version of "natural" rubber. Babies are often drawn to these kinds of binkies because they are some of the softest on the market, making them more enjoyable to chew. Benefits to a natural rubber pacifier, like a Natursutten pacifier, include avoiding artificial colors, chemical softeners, parabens, PVC, and phthalates, and hormone-disturbing substances. The protein that on rare occasions can provoke a latex allergy is removed from the rubber sap used for a Natursutten pacifier. However, Natursutten would never recommend using a product made from natural rubber for a child with a diagnosed latex allergy.
What ingredients should I avoid? Again, this is something people disagree about. Better Goods wrote an article on the topic and recommends avoiding PVC, synthetic latex, BPA, synthetic dyes, parabens, and phthalates. In December 2021, Parent Guide claimed that parents do not have to worry about BPA or phthalates because "latex or silicone… generally do not contain BPA." However, back in 2016, Environmental Science & Technology released information about BPA in pacifiers, stating that some pacifiers that claim to be BPA free tested positive to contain BPA.
What makes a baby pacifier safe?
After considering the material, what else is important to look at in terms of safety?
Start by looking at the construction. Mayo Clinic recommends a one-piece baby or newborn pacifier, saying a two-piece pacifier could break and become a choking hazard. One-piece pacifiers are also easier to clean, and they do not have cracks where bacteria can wedge in and pose a problem.
Baby pacifiers should be easy to clean. You need to know how your pacifier is cleaned correctly and be willing to follow those steps regularly. Again, a one-piece design is beneficial to truly ensure a thorough cleaning. While some recommend cleaning pacifiers daily, others recommend cleaning them before every use. Some baby pacifiers can be boiled, some are dishwasher safe, others need to be hand-washed. Whichever you choose, make sure you can dedicate the effort to keeping everything healthy and clean for your newborn or baby.
When purchasing baby essentials, it's important to remember the price. You'll need to choose a pacifier that fits your budget, despite needing to replace them regularly. In general, it's recommended to replace binkies about every 4-6 weeks. You should also replace pacifiers when there are "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, or the nipple is sticky, even after thoroughly washing," according to Parent Guide.
If you need a teething pacifier, you may want to find something that is all chewable. These kinds of pacifiers are usually one-piece, and you should look for something safe for the baby to chew on for a long time without breaking off sharp pieces.
What shape should a baby pacifier be?
Binkies offer various nipple shapes and shield shapes to meet your baby's needs.
There are oversized shields, butterfly shields, or smaller/flatter shields.
Like the Natursutten Orthodontic Pacifier, the oversized (or Round) shield is great for breastfeeding babies.
The shield gently rests against baby's nose to create a soothing experience, just like breastfeeding.
A butterfly shield is meant to leave space for the baby's nose. Then, some prefer a smaller/flatter shield to leave the most room for the baby's nose. This is intended to make it easier for the baby to breathe freely.
When choosing nipple shape, the three main choices are:
- The rounded nipple - is like a ball, similar to a typical bottle shape.
- The orthodontic nipple - is flattened on the bottom; they are crafted with your baby's palate and jaw in mind.
- The symmetrical nipple - is somewhat elongated and made to simulate a breast.
Choosing among the three mostly depends on your baby's willingness to take.
Does pacifier style matter?
You may want a pretend mustache, your favorite superhero's logo, or a small stuffed animal friend to be paired with your baby's teething pacifier. Using any of these cute styles may be perfectly fine.
Nonetheless, whatever style you're looking at, it's important to ensure the pacifier still aligns with other vital factors. All baby essentials given to your little one, especially something going in their mouth, should be examined thoroughly.
Novelty binkies that have funny plastic mustaches or giant lips on them may be entertaining, but is it good for your baby? Ensure that all baby essentials are not made of cheap plastic that could break or hide bacteria.
If you're looking at binkies with toys attached, make sure it's still easy to clean. Can the toy be washed? Can the toy be easily removed, posing a choking hazard?
When it comes to glow-in-the-dark baby pacifiers, we had trouble drumming up some studies to back up claims. With that in mind, the internet seems to agree that glow-in-the-dark pacifiers are safe as long as they do not contain harmful materials like the BPAs and phthalates mentioned previously.
We know moms and dads seem to have an endless number of baby essentials to gather when preparing for a newborn. This collection of opinions from experts, doctors, and others is intended to help make your pacifier decision a little bit easier.