If you are a new parent, the wellbeing of your baby is of paramount importance. At Boston Baby Nurse & Nanny, we know that there is no shortage of information about pregnancy and parenting. Whether it’s a Google search, a YouTube video, or the well-meaning advice from family and friends it might seem like there’s just too much information available. An overload of information can often make us feel stressed and overwhelmed. We’ve put together a list of the top 5 questions new parents ask about infant pacifier use.

1. Is an infant pacifier safe?

We have been asked time and time again, are pacifiers safe for babies? The answer is yes! According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), pacifiers can not only help sooth your baby, but research has also proven a pacifier can help with reducing Sudden Infant Death (SID).

2. Do pacifier cause nipple confusion?

In all of my years of experience, I have seen very few babies actually struggle with nipple confusion. Research shows that the use of an infant pacifier starting from birth or after lactation is established, did not significantly impact the frequency or duration of breastfeeding.

However, that being said, I recommend that moms hold off until breastfeeding is established, and their baby has learned to latch correctly before introducing the pacifier. If you do choose to introduce a pacifier at birth while breastfeeding, be sure not to use the pacifier close to feeding times or to delay your baby’s hunger cues

3. How do I clean and sterilize a pacifier?

Before the first use, it is recommended to sterilize the pacifier when first taking it out of the package. This can be done by putting the infant pacifier in plenty of boiling water for a few minutes. Afterwards, cleaning a pacifier doesn’t have to be complicated. You don’t have to go to the trouble of constantly boiling them or using special sanitizers. I don’t recommend the age old technique of popping the pacifier into your mouth to clean it. A simple suds-up with hot water and dish soap will do the trick.

Pacifier Don’ts:

  • Do not put it in the dishwasher.
  • Do not clean with a steam sterilizer.
  • Do not freeze it.

4. Which pacifier should I choose for my baby?

Pacifiers come in a variety of styles, materials and colors but can generally be divided into two main categories: orthodontic pacifiers and conventional pacifiers. The big difference between the two is the shape of the nipple.

Choose a size based on your baby’s age. Also, pay attention to the size of the shield between the nipple and the ring. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), to reduce choking risk, it should be at least 1.5 inches in diameter. The AAP explains that you also want to avoid an infant pacifier that attaches to your baby’s neck or hands or ties onto their crib, as these can endanger the child.

Remember that if you have questions or concerns about your baby’s pacifier use or want further help choosing the best type of pacifier for your infant, your family doctor or dentist is there to answer your questions and provide advice and assistance.

5. Are pacifiers bad for my baby’s teeth?

Certainly not in the early months of infancy! The American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Academy of Dentistry recommend weaning children from the pacifier before the age of 2 years (or sooner if baby is ready).  Prolonged usage could eventually lead to potential dental problems for the child. The bottom line is, don’t worry about it if your baby is under one year of age. The benefits clearly outweigh any dental risks at this young age.

Read more about infant pacifier use on page 251 of the parenting book, Newborn 101. Boston Baby Nurse & Nanny’s newborn care experts are also a great resource; if you have any questions on newborn care reach out today!

About The Author

Carole K. Arsenault is the founder and CEO of Boston Baby Nurse & Nanny. She has years of experience working with newborns as a lactation consultant, sleep coach, and of course an RN specializing in Obstetrics and Maternal Health. In addition, she is the award winning author of Newborn 101. She has three grown children and loves to share mindfulness tips to friends and parents.