The best pacifiers can be sanity savers for parents, helping babies learn to self-soothe and fall asleep faster. 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).
But it’s important to know how and when to introduce a pacifier — and how to choose the best, safest pacifiers for children of different ages. To prevent a baby from getting the whole pacifier into her mouth, choose a style that has at least an inch and a half 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.
As for those ever-popular teething necklaces, many of which attach to pacifiers, the American Academy of Pediatrics says to avoid those worn by children at all costs because of the risk of strangulation and choking. Suffocation is the leading cause of death for children under the age of one and among the top five causes of death for children between the ages of 1-4, says the organization.
Baby Pacifier Tips From the American Academy of Pediatrics
- Look for pacifiers that can’t break into multiple pieces, such as those made from a single piece of plastic.
- 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.
- Check your pacifiers regularly for wear and tear, especially as your child develops teeth.
You may need to experiment with a few different nipple types before finding the right match: Some babies 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.
Here’s a round-up of some of the best BPA-free pacifiers, but keep in mind that babies can be particular creatures.
The Best Pacifiers for Newborn Babies
This ultra-popular pacifier is made from a single piece of rubber, thus leaving no cracks or joints where bacteria can build up. This particular model has a little cut out, to make room for your baby's nose. And it's for babies from birth until they're six months old.
You'll notice that the nipple looks different on this silicone pacifier and that's by design: It's to encourage correct tongue placement. It's made from a single piece of silicone and is dishwasher-safe. It's for babies from birth until they're three months old.
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. It's tough to lose, and the extra weight helps keep the pacifier in place.
These rubber pacifiers, meant for babies from birth until three months, have a flattened bottom and rounded top, so the nipple fits between the tongue and pallet. We like that these are plant-based but while the cutouts are cute, they do make these a bit harder to clean.
Pop the nipple out when you're using this as a pacifier. And pop it back in when your child starts teething. It's made from silicone, and is dishwasher-safe.
You know Medela for its breast pumps. Now, behold the brand's silicone pacifiers. They're for newborns until your baby hits six months. You'll note the flat symmetric shape, which is designed to support your child's suckling.
The Best Pacifiers for Older Babies
Best for breastfed babies six months and older, these pacifiers have extra-large open air holes for ample breathing room, and they glow in the dark so they're easy to find. The silicone nipple has a symmetrical shape that mimics a mother's breast.
The cool thing about this pacifier is that it allows you to pop the nipple back in when not in use, thus keeping things more hygienic. It's made from a single piece of silicone and is ideal for babies three months and older.
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. It's great for babies three months and older.
The Best Pacifier for Toddlers
You can use this pacifier from three months until your toddler turns three. These pacifiers are made from rubber, and we like that they have a flattened bottom and rounded top, so they fit perfectly between the tongue and pallet to help prevent the misalignment of teeth.
You know Medela for its breast pumps. Now it's broadened its product line. These pacifiers, designed for babies 18 months and older, have a flat symmetric shape and thin neck to support the natural movement of the baby's mouth muscles.
Ideal for babies 18 months and older, these pacifiers glow in the dark so they're easy to find in the crib.
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