Pacifiers, soothers, binkies and dummies.
Whatever word you use for them, pacifiers should be marketed as a new mom sanity saver.
For a fussy baby, it’s sometimes nothing short of magical how awesome they are at calming them down.
Unfortunately, while for some parents pacifiers are a godsend, some moms find that their children, especially those that are breastfed, want nothing to do with them.
This list is specifically for breastfed babies, but the truth is, they’re good for ANY baby, even if they’re fed formula or drink from a bottle.
I’ll show you 5 of the absolute best pacifiers: one of them should be in every mom’s arsenal!
Today we’ll be looking at:
- Why some pacifiers should be avoided.
- Chemicals that should be avoided in pacifiers.
- The different kinds of pacifiers available.
- The best non-toxic pacifiers.
- Answers to some frequently asked questions about pacifiers.
Non-toxic solutions for pacifiers.
Just like most baby products, you can find pacifiers with some bad materials. Let’s take a look at the potential ingredients, and which ones are safe.
- PVC – Vinyl (also known as polyvinyl chloride or PVC), which is one of the most toxic plastics there is.
- Synthetic latex – Can contain nitrosamines, a known carcinogen. However, natural latex is a great material.
- BPA – All pacifiers are supposed to be BPA-free, but studies have shown that even pacifiers marketed as “BPA-free” have been thought to leak some BPA. (source)
- Synthetic dyes – Bad for the environment, bad for you. Sometimes linked to cancer and ADHD.
- Parabens – Synthetic preservatives linked to endocrine disruption, allergic reaction, cancer and reproductive issues.
- Phthalates – Chemicals linked to neurological disorders issues in children. (source)
What to look for in a non-toxic pacifier.
After reading that laundry list of toxic ingredients, you’re probably interested in a safe, non-toxic alternative, right?
Luckily, there are some good alternatives on the market that are safe, non-toxic and made by trustworthy companies.
But first, let’s go into the silicone vs. natural rubber debate.
Silicone vs. natural rubber pacifiers: which is more safe?
A lot of pacifiers on the market are made from food-grade silicone, which is generally considered to be a safe material.
Silicone pacifiers are sturdier than latex pacifiers, and last longer. They’re also not as soft as latex pacifiers.
Because silicone is made with synthetic materials, we strongly recommend natural rubber pacifiers over silicone.
Natural rubber (latex).
The safer choice when it comes to avoiding toxic chemicals. Natural rubber comes from the Hevea Brasiliensi tree, and is a great non-toxic material.
Natural rubber, made by a good company, has no added chemicals or preservatives. For the eco-conscious, it’s also biodegradable—although it takes a long time.
There are some downsides to natural latex pacifiers, however:
- It breaks down quicker. Since they don’t contain any chemical preservatives or chemical softeners, they often break down quicker than their less-safe counterparts. Since they need to be replaced more often, this means more waste and more money out of your pocket.
- Some children have a latex allergy. These allergies are real, and there’s no real way of knowing if your child has one until you try giving them a latex product.
The best non-toxic pacifiers.
All of these pacifiers are made from natural rubber from the tree Hevea Brasiliensi from Malaysia. They’re all excellent non-toxic pacifiers with no harmful chemicals used.
All natural rubber pacifiers should be replaced every 6 to 8 weeks, and always check for any signs of degradation before you give your little one their pacifier.
Some parents complain that these smell of rubber, but it is rubber, so of course it’s going to smell like that.
You should also check the pacifier over after purchase and make sure there are no cracks or defects.
These choices are all molded in one piece, so there are no cracks or crevices for moisture and dirt/fuzzies to get trapped in and also making it more durable.
OUR BEST RECOMMENDATION
Made in Malaysia.
Price: $19.99 for 3 ($6.66 each)
They’re the most economical option at this price, and hard to beat for this reason.
These pacifiers are very similar to the Natursutten ones with a few differences.
These come in only 2 forms: rounded and orthodontic. They don’t offer a butterfly-shaped version with the nose cutout, so these are no-go if that’s important to you.
They come in two sizes: zero to 6 months, and 6 months+.
MADE IN ITALY
Made in Italy.
Price: $12 for 1 / $21 for 2
The Natursutten natural rubber pacifier is a popular brand that’s made in Italy.
They come in 3 sizes: 0 to 6 months, 6 to 12 months, and 12 months+.
These pacifiers have a very large shield, but this is on purpose—it’s designed to touch baby’s nose, simulating the feeling they have when their nose is touching the breast while breast feeding. If you don’t like this design, they make a butterfly-shaped version that has a cutout for baby’s nose.
All in all, this is a great natural pacifier without any toxic ingredients. However, the price is a bit higher compared to other brands. But if being made in Italy is a big perk to you, go with this one.
Made in Malaysia.
Price: $9 each.
Hevea, named after the Hevea Brasiliensi tree where natural latex is made from, makes a good line of natural rubber pacifiers that come in a variety of colors and patterns.
The colored versions use 100% natural & non-toxic food grade mineral pigments. If cute colors and shapes are up your alley, these are really your only option when it comes to non-toxic and natural rubber pacifiers.
These also only come in butterfly shape, but can be found in both rounded and orthodonic nipples.
They come in 2 sizes: 0 to 3 months, and 3 to 36 months.
Should we use pacifiers?
If you’re lucky, pacifiers will do exactly what the name implies—pacify and comfort your baby.
If you’re a first-time parent, you might be unsure of whether or not you should be using pacifiers at all. It’s a common question.
There are some real benefits to pacifiers but there are also some cons as well.
Pros of pacifiers.
- They might help reduce SIDS. SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) has been known to have a huge impact on lowering the risk of SIDS. Doctors aren’t exactly sure why, but giving your baby a pacifier while she’s asleep can lower the risk by more than 50%. (source)
- Satisfy the suck reflex. Babies have a natural need to suck. The breast or a bottle is the usual remedy to this, but the urge to suck can last even after his belly is full. A pacifier is the perfect solution for this.
- Encourages baby to self-soothe. Sucking on a pacifier can help your little one learn to manage his or her emotions. A happy baby is a happy parent!
- Reduces pressure in ears when flying. If you take your little one on a plane, letting them use a pacifier can help relieve the painful pressure build-up we experience during takeoff and landing.
- Babies are going to suck on something no matter what. If you don’t give your baby a pacifier, they’re going to end up sucking on something—most likely a thumb or finger. And trust me, it’s a lot harder to break that habit than a pacifier habit.
Cons of pacifiers.
- Increased risk of inner-ear infections. There is a definite increased risk of ear infection in children who use pacifiers. However, the risk of ear infection is highest in the early months when the risk of SIDS is highest, so experts suggest the pros outweigh the cons here. (source)
- Increased risk of dental issues with prolonged use. With improper (using a sweetend pacifier) or extended use (past age 5), pacifiers have been linked to dental issues like misaligned teeth and cavities. (source)
- They can interfere with breastfeeding. A pacifier is a lot different from a breast or bottle, and your child can be sensitive to this. In some cases it can make breastfeeding more difficult.
- They can become dependent on the pacifier. This is especially true if your child uses the pacifier to go to sleep. They can get to the point where they need them every time they get upset. And you might wake up to them crying in the night when the pacifier falls out of their mouth—no fun at all.
When should I introduce my baby to the pacifier?
It’s recommended that you wait at least 3-4 weeks before introducing your breastfed baby to a pacifier or any sort of artificial nipple, and that includes baby bottles.
Personally, I’d recommend waiting even longer until mom’s milk supply is well established, which should be about 6-8 weeks. That way your supply is well-established and you won’t lose any needed nipple stimulation to the pacifier.
When should I stop using pacifiers?
Experts generally recommend stopping pacifier usage around 2 years of age. (source)
Prolonged pacifier usage can lead to dental issues like misaligned teeth. Any teeth issues like these before the age of 2 usually can fix themselves if you stop giving your child a pacifier.
My baby doesn’t like pacifiers—now what?
If you think your child doesn’t like pacifiers, don’t give up.
It’s likely that you just think your child doesn’t want a pacifier, but before you give up, it’s very possible that your child doesn’t like the particular pacifier you’re giving them.
There are 3 common types of pacifiers—rounded (like a baby bottle or real nipple), flat (think about a round one, but squished) and angled.
If your baby doesn’t seem like she likes the pacifier you have, give a different one a shot. They might just love it.
Always keep an eye on your child if they’re using a pacifier.
Although pacifiers are a great tool with some real benefits, they can also be dangerous.
At the time of writing, there are over 150 reports on the SaferProducts.gov website detailing pacifiers that have broken or become lodged in children’s throats, sometimes leading to death. (source)
These incidents often happen while the children are asleep and parents aren’t watching over them.
Always keep an eye on your child and inspect the pacifier before giving it to them.
Pacifier do’s and don’ts.
- Do keep the pacifier clean. They collect bacteria and germs rapidly, so wash and sterilize it regularly. You can simply throw them in the dishwasher (if they’re dishwasher safe) or boil them in hot water before giving them to baby. Many manufacturers recommend boiling the pacifier before first use, but please check the instructions before doing so.
- Do replace pacifiers every few months. They don’t last forever and can start to break down over time, leading to a choking hazard.
- Do examine the pacifier before giving it to baby. Is it clean and free of debris? Are there any cracks or holes that weren’t there before? If so, it’s probably not safe anymore.
- Do buy a pacifier that’s appropriate for your child’s age. Pacifiers are rated by age, and for good reason. For example, pacifiers made for newborns are a lot softer than those made for older children. A child with teeth could potentially chew on a pacifier that’s too soft, leading to broken pieces and therefore a choking hazard.
- Do let your baby dictate how they use the pacifier. Don’t force it! If the pacifier falls out of their mouth and they don’t seem to want it, let it be; babies know best when it comes to pacifiers.
- Do wait until the breastfeeding routine is well-established, meaning at least 4-6 weeks. This will minimize the chances of their being any kind of interruption due to pacifier use.
- Do offer the pacifier during times you know baby isn’t hungry. A hungry baby will only get cranky if they expect a nipple but only get the rubber one.
- Do check the official list of recalled pacifiers to make sure your pacifier hasn’t been recalled due to danger.
- Don’t coat the pacifier in sugar or any other sweet substance in an attempt to get them to use it. This can lead to cavities.
- Don’t use the pacifier as a replacement for your attention or to delay feeding time. Having said that, they can be a godsend if you’re somewhere where you just can’t give your full attention, such as in a busy checkout line or at the airport. Just use your judgement!
- Don’t tie the pacifier to your baby, the crib or stroller, or anything at all for that matter. This is a definite strangulation hazard, and it’s not that big of a deal if it falls on the floor. Just sterilize it and it’s good as new.
When to avoid using pacifiers.
If you notice any of these problems, you should stop using pacifiers, at least for now. And it might be a good idea to ask your pediatrician about it. (source)
- Baby is eating less frequently or for a shorter amount of time.
- Baby is having difficulty with breastfeeding that wasn’t happening before.
- Baby is having issues with weight gain.
- Baby is having repeated ear infections.
- Mom is having milk supply problems.
We highly recommend the Ecopacifier by Ecopiggy as the best pacifier for all kids. It’s made of non-toxic and natural rubber, solidly built from one solid piece, and the price is great, too. Click here to see it on Amazon.