The best pacifiers can be sanity savers for parents, and help babies learn to self-soothe.
But the decision on whether or not to give your baby a pacifier is often hotly debated (sometimes even within the same family). But we’re assuming if you’re reading this, you’ve landed on Team Paci, which by the way, isn’t a bad place to be (some experts think they may even decrease SIDS risk). It’s important to know how and when to introduce a pacifier, and the American Academy of Pediatrics offers the following tips on how to do so:
- Look for pacifiers that can’t break into multiple pieces, such as those made from a single piece of plastic.
- Check your pacifiers regularly for wear and tear, especially as your child develops teeth.
- To prevent a baby from getting the whole pacifier into her mouth, choose a style that has at least 1 ½ inches of space between the nipple and the ring. You should also follow the manufacturer’s guidelines for the age range, since an older toddler could choke on a smaller paci meant for a newborn.
- The shield between the nipple and the ring should be at least 1-1⁄2 inches (3.8 cm) across, so the infant cannot take the entire pacifier into her mouth. And those holes in the shield? They’re for ventilation—make sure yours has them.
- Don’t tie a pacifier to anything (the baby’s body, the crib, etc), since cords present a risk of strangulation.
Here’s a round-up of some of the best BPA-free pacifiers, but keep in mind that babies can be particular creatures.
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You may need to experiment with a few different nipple types before finding the right match: Some prefer a rounded shape, others like more flattened (these are sometimes called “orthodontic”) and then there are the delightfully chill babies who will take a few different ones.
Part Soothie pacifier, part (newborn-safe) stuffed animal, this cuddly lovey is recommended for babies from birth through six months, and should be set aside when your little one starts to teethe. If your baby digs the Soothie pacifier (and not all do), he or she will likely be thrilled with the WubbaNub.
This cultishly popular paci-meets-toy has more than 2,000 reviews on Amazon, most of them positive (much of the negative feedback came from shoppers who believed they’d received fake items). It’s tough to lose, the extra weight helps keep the pacifier in place, and as baby grows, she’ll be able to grasp the giraffe easily and will likely start snuggling with it at bedtime. Some parents said they wished they could separate pacifier and animal for washing, but it’s not possible (probably for safety reasons).
With 1,500 reviews on Amazon, this is certainly one popular pacifier. Why? It's made from medical grade silicone and is both a pacifier and teething toy for babies.
This pacifier is shaped like a pacifier, but is tough enough that teething babies won’t chew through it. There two versions. Stage one is recommended for babies without teeth and stage two is best for babies with teeth.
This is one of the best pacifiers for breast-fed babies, because it's designed to reduce nipple confusion.
Nanobébé’s silicone pacifier has one-piece construction, meaning it meets the AAP’s guidelines for pacifiers. It has a unique nipple shape for babies who are being breastfed. And it’s made from soft silicone and is specifically shaped to stay in your baby’s mouth.
This Danish pacifier is made of natural rubber and mimics the shape of the mother's breast.
If you prefer something that looks truly classic, get this rubber pacifier, made in Denmark. But per the brand, because these soothers are made with natural rubber, the nipple may expand with use, so check it regularly.
If you've ever freaked out that your child's pacifier is going to break apart, this one-piece molded plastic soother, which fits the AAP's guidelines, is for you.
The Soothie is sold in a range of sizes, and this one has harder silicone that makes it ideal for babies who are getting ready to start teething. The rounded tip may be a hit with breastfed babies, since it’s designed to resemble a human nipple.
Hold this 0-6 month pacifier up to a bright light before you tuck in your little one, and it will emit a soft glow overnight that makes it easier to spot if it falls out.
Besides the fun factor, this thin-stem orthodontic pacifier has quite a bit going for it. As baby sucks, an air channel opens to reduce pressure, which some experts believe contributes to dental issues. These handy pacis come in three different sizes, so your little one can use it even after she turns one.
The open design of this pacifier is designed to reduce skin irritation caused by saliva pooling near baby's mouth.
The style, which has a scooped bottom, is supposed to help encourage the most natural sucking motion, thus reducing pressure inside the mouth that can lead to dental problems.
These pacifiers were designed to work well with breastfeeding, with a shape that's supposed to mimic a mother's nipple.
One huge plus is that the nipple is symmetrical, so it’s always in baby’s mouth correctly and requires less futzing. And not only does the shield have holes to allow air to circulate, there are also tiny bumps that prevent it from sitting flush against baby’s skin and causing the dreaded drool rash.
This pacifier does not look like other baby pacifiers, but that's because its gem-shaped nipple helps encourage proper tongue placement.
This specific pacifier was developed with the assistance of a pediatric dentist and create specifically to encourage your baby’s tongue to stay in its proper place and for your baby to get a more solid self-soothing suck going.
Not only does it have a name that's straight out of a Beatrix Potter book, this tiny soother was designed just for premature babies.
The name “Thumbie” reflects the nipple shape, which is tiny and round, like your baby’s thumb; this pacifier was created to help her better master the sucking reflex that full-term babies practice in the womb. If your baby is still in the NICU and requiring extra help breathing or eating, the notched shield will help it fit better with medical equipment. It’s also designed not to overwhelm or gag young babies: At .3 ounces, it weighs about half what standard newborn pacifier does.
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