Many parents have a love-hate relationship with pacifiers. While pacifiers are soothing to baby and are now recommended by AAP for use at bedtime for SIDS prevention, parents dread taking the pacifier away one day or having pacifiers discourage breastfeeding. Before you buy pacifiers, take a look at these common pacifier features and pacifier safety tips to be sure you're choosing the right pacifiers for your baby.
Don't Buy Too Many Pacifiers Before Baby Arrives
When you're stocking baby's nursery, it's tempting to buy several boxes of those cute little pacifiers. While buying a few pacifiers in different styles is a good idea, wait until you know your baby will take a pacifier before buying too many. Some babies just don't like pacifiers, while others are very particular about which types of pacifiers they will take. Try a few pacifier styles with baby before buying a year's supply.
One-Piece Pacifiers Only
Most new pacifiers are one-piece, whether they are made of molded silicone or a combination of plastic and silicone or latex. Check to be sure the nipple is firmly attached to the base of the pacifier. If you are able to detach the nipple with a tug, you can be sure baby will eventually detach it. Also avoid pacifiers that have liquid or gel inside the nipple. Liquid-filled pacifiers may look cool, but they're messy and possibly harmful when baby bites through and releases the liquid.
While many baby products can be recreated at home, pacifiers are not in that category. Do not use bottle nipples and caps as pacifiers, as they can come apart and cause choking. Homemade pacifiers may not be sturdy enough to hold up to repeated use without breaking down or psing other health risks to baby.
Orthodontic Pacifiers vs. Rounded Pacifiers
Orthodontic pacifier nipples have a rounded top and a flat bottom, and were designed to prevent tooth troubles later in baby's life. However, if your baby prefers a rounded traditional pacifier nipple, go with what works. Both types of pacifier nipples have been found to increase bite problems, like overbite, later in life, but limiting the amount of time baby spends with the pacifier and taking the pacifier away after baby's first year can minimize dental damage.
Silicone or Latex Pacifiers?
Both silicone and latex pacifier nipples have advantages, and the choice usually comes down to baby's preference. Silicone is sturdy, doesn't retain odors, cleans up easily and is harder for baby to bite through. Silicone is not as soft on baby's mouth, though. Latex is soft in baby's mouth and baby may like the way it retains scents, but latex doesn't hold up as well to repeated cleanings and little teeth can quickly chew through it.
Must-Have Pacifier Features
A safe pacifier should be at least 1.5 inches across to prevent choking. Many babies develop rashes from the constant moisture under the pacifier shield, so look for pacifiers that have vent holes in the shield to let air get to baby's skin. Color and style are up to you, but brightly colored pacifiers are easier to spot under vehicle seats and in diaper bags. Glow-in-the-dark pacifiers might be easier to find at bedtime. Be sure the pacifier can be boiled or put in the dishwasher for cleaning.
Don't Tie It On!
No matter how tempting it is to tie a pacifier to your baby, don't. Pacifiers get lost a lot, but putting a ribbon or string around baby's neck or tying the pacifier to clothing carries too great a risk of strangulation. If your baby keeps losing pacifiers, either keep small stashes of baby's favorite style in the diaper bag, car, nursery, etc. so that you always have one at the ready, or look for a sturdy pacifier clip at the store.
Check for Pacifier Recalls
It doesn't happen very often, but baby pacifiers are sometimes recalled for safety issues. When something is in baby's mouth so often, it's important to know if a flaw poses a choking hazard or other danger.