The Ins and Outs of Pacifiers

Pacifiers are one of those hot topics that most people haves strong opinions about. Either your baby will never sleep on his own without one or your kid will go to college still needing his. These two far reached arguments aside, finding the right pacifier is extremely difficult. Unfortunately, it is up to the baby and not the parent to determine the one that will be accepted. Every baby, and every brand of pacifier, is different. Use this guide to learn the details of pacifiers to figure out what one may work for both you and your child.


Types of Pacifiers

Even though there are at least ten brands of pacifiers in each store, there are actually only two types of pacifiers. Each brand fits into one of these that includes:
One Piece: A one piece pacifier is exactly that – one piece. The nipple and base are molded together so that the parts cannot come apart. It leaves you with a sleeker look and a safer piece. The brands known for this style include:

  • Philips Soothie
  • First Years GumDrop
  • Natursutten Butterfly
  • Brown’s

Multi-Piece: A pacifier that is a combination of two or more pieces. There is generally a small handle added to the base that allows for easy grabbing. These almost always feature fun designs and colors. Popular brands of the multi-piece pacifier are:

  • Nuk
  • Avent
  • MAM
  • Tommee Tippee

Novelty: Novelty pacifiers technically fall under the one- or multi-piece categories. Many of these actually use one of the name brands and add to it to make your baby’s favorite soother more fun. Some are even gaining in noterity such as:

  • Wubanub: This brand utilizes the Soothie and attaches a small stuffed animal to it. The type of animals are varied from a puppy to elephant to bird. The idea is that the weight of the animal keeps it near your baby when the pacifier is spit out or thrown while making it easy for him to find. It also gives your baby another soother that may help them to wean.
  • Mustachifer: Using a multi-piece pacifier, this company adds mustaches and other fun items. It essentially makes your baby look as those she has a mustache, vampire fangs, etc. when she is sucking it.
  • Glow-in-the-Dark: A number of companies added glow –in-the-dark to their repertoire. The front of the pacifier glows during the night. It is said this helps lull the baby to sleep while making it easy for her to find it later.
  • Teething Pacifiers: There are a few brands that offer pacifiers specifically for teething babies. The Razberry, for example, features firmer silicone that your baby can gnaw on to reduce teething pain. Alternatively, there are pacifiers that feature small nets rather than a nipple. The parent can put ice, fruit, or other items in it for their baby to suck on. It can help introduce foods or help with teething pain.

Using a Pacifier

The hardest part about using a pacifier is finding the correct one. If your hospital offers one, it is likely to be the Soothie as that is their recommended brand. Otherwise, your best bet is to buy a few different brands and rotate through them until you find the one that your baby enjoys. Signs that your baby may benefit from a pacifier include:

  • Sucking on fingers, blankets, or toys
  • Wanting comfort nursing often
  • Sucking empty bottles when full

Remember these pacifier tips when you do introduce one to your baby:

  • Add breastmilk or formula to the tip of the pacifier to help your baby accept it
  • Use the same brand of pacifier as the bottles your baby likes
  • Keep a stock – eventually your baby bites through them and will only accept the same animal, color, etc. Always have a back up.
  • Choose a bright color when possible to easily find it when it is lost

Please note that it is highly recommended to wait until your baby is four to six weeks old before you introduce the pacifier. Many people will tell you this is to stop your baby from having nipple confusion, however, this is completely false. In the first three months, your baby is developing their oral cavity and jaw muscles. Introducing the pacifier teaches the muscles to interact in a different way. This, in consequence, alters the development of the mouth and may cause problems later on.

Cleaning the Pacifier

Pacifiers carry a lot of germs. It sits in saliva for awhile. Then it is thrown onto the floor of your living room, the mall, the car, a public bathroom. While you don’t have to clean it each time it falls, you will want to keep a routine together that santizes it. For instance, you may:

  • Boil it directly out of the package (or follow the company’s guidelines) to ensure it is sanitized prior to first use.
  • Boil or place in your dishwasher once a week to keep germs at bay
  • Wash with soap and warm water as necessary

Weaning from the Pacifier

Many parents worry about weaning from the pacifier. This is ultimately the reason some choose not to offer one. The positive, though, is that the pacifier can be taken away while something like a thumb cannot. When you are ready to wean, it may be easy or difficult depending on the temperament of your child. Some tips to help you through are:

  • Cutting off the tips or poking holes so it suddenly does not work
  • Bribing with a sticker chart similar to potty training
  • Picking out a Build-a-Bear and placing the pacifier in it so the pacifier is always with your child still
  • Offering the pacifier only at nap and night before fulling weaning
  • Remembering it takes one to five nights for your child to fully wean and accept it
  • Preparing for meltdowns and refusing to give in. Giving it will only cause more.

Interesting Pacifier Facts

If nothing else, the history of the pacifier carries many interesting facts. The first mass produced pacifiers, for example, did not contain the base that keeps babies from choking. It did, though, contain lead. Check out these other crazy facts:

  • In the 1700s, pacifiers were made from coral
  • ‘Binky’ is a trademarked name and not a generic term
  • Parents who suck on their baby’s pacifiers have children with lower rates of eczema and asthma
  • France banned them due to being unsanitary in the 1920’s
  • There is a lower risk of SIDS for babies who use pacifiers, though it is unknown why
  • Cloth pacifiers were once used. These contained sugar in the center and were often dipped in liquor to help teething pain
  • Generally, pacifiers won’t cause damage to teeth until the baby is three years old
  • Mothers are more likely to exclusively breastfeed if a pacifier is introduced

All in all, the pacifier is always up for debate. If you find that it works for your baby and family, however, there is no reason not to use one. A pacifier can be a miracle worker for the baby that wants to nurse constantly. Suddenly, the new Momma has a little freedom. Just ensure your baby wants the pacifier and you are not forcing it upon her. Some babies are perfectly happy with a soft toy or blankie to soothe them.