Babies cry. Everyone knows that babies cry, and they use these cries to communicate. However, prolonged crying isn’t healthy for the baby or you as their caregiver. Pacifiers can soothe babies and help them cry less.
With so many pacifiers on the market, choosing the right pacifier for your infant can feel impossible. We have some tips below to help you find the right one, maintain it, and eventually wean your little one off it.
Choose a Pacifier Design Recommended for Your Baby’s Age
Pacifiers come in several designs. Many caregivers struggle to choose the right pacifier design for their baby. The best way to narrow down your choices is to consider your baby’s age.
Choosing the right pacifier for your newborn is just as important as picking their first pair of shoes. Designs such as orthodontic or “one-piece” pacifiers are ideal for this early stage. Manufacturers designed orthodontic pacifiers to fit your baby’s mouth, promoting healthy oral development.
“One-piece” pacifiers, as the name suggests, consist of a single piece of material, providing safety and simplicity. Both styles are lightweight and easy for your baby to keep in their mouth, starting their pacifier journey off on the right foot.
Pacifiers for Older Babies
As your baby grows, their pacifier should grow with them. Transitioning your baby to a “multi-piece” or “stuffed animal” pacifier can provide more comfort and functionality. “Multi-piece” pacifiers have separate parts, allowing you to change the nipple as your baby’s needs evolve.
“Stuffed animal” pacifiers have a plush toy attached, offering your baby comfort and a soft friend to hold onto. Both styles cater to an older baby’s desire for tactile exploration, making the pacifier more than just a soothing tool, but a functional toy.
Consider Your Baby’s Oral Anatomy and Development
Your baby’s pacifier shouldn’t just get bigger as they get bigger. Instead, you should consider their oral anatomy and development at each stage. Careful consideration of oral anatomy and development will help you choose the right pacifier as your baby grows.
Just like a puzzle piece, you want to ensure the pacifier’s nipple is the right size and shape for your baby’s tiny mouth. An oversized nipple can cause discomfort, while an undersized one might not provide the soothing effect you’re aiming for.
We previously mentioned the importance of orthodontic pacifiers. Let’s get into the details of this option. Manufacturers specifically designed orthodontic pacifiers to fit comfortably in a baby’s mouth, respecting the natural shape and development of their palate, teeth, and gums.
They also help prevent teeth misalignment. This pacifier style has a flattened bottom and rounded top, mimicking the shape of a mother’s nipple during breastfeeding. The unique design promotes a more even distribution of pressure against the baby’s palate, which can potentially avoid future dental issues like an overbite.
Inspect for Safety and Quality
As you look through orthodontic and other pacifier options, you must closely inspect their quality and safety certifications. Your baby will probably use their pacifier a lot, so you want to choose something that has safe ingredients and can withstand all the tough chewing your baby will do.
BPA and Phthalate-Free
Bisphenol A, or BPA, describes a specific industrial chemical often found in certain plastics and resins. Some research has shown that BPA can negatively affect children, especially their brains and prostate glands. Phthalates are a similar chemical found in various plastics, especially plastic packaging, and can also negatively affect children’s growth and development, particularly their reproductive systems. Choosing a pacifier that doesn’t contain these chemicals allows your baby to safely enjoy their pacifier.
After disqualifying pacifiers with BPA or Phthalates, you can focus on finding a pacifier that will last a long time. Choose ones consisting of high-quality, long-lasting materials. For example, BIBS Pacifiers and the Hevea Pacifier both consist of safe, durable natural rubber.
Clean Pacifiers Regularly
Now that you know how to choose the right pacifier for your infant, you must keep it clean so they can safely enjoy it. Developing a cleaning routine and keeping extra clean pacifiers on hand are the best ways to keep your baby happy and healthy.
Develop a Daily Cleaning Routine
Make it a daily habit to wash and air-dry your baby’s pacifier. Washing eliminates any lingering germs, while air-drying prevents moisture build-up, a common cause of bacterial growth. Rinse the pacifier thoroughly under warm water, using a mild soap if needed. Shake off any excess water and leave it to dry in a clean, well-ventilated area. Keep it out of reach of any pets or older siblings who may decide that they want a turn with this popular item.
Keep Extra Pacifiers On Hand
Once you’ve found the perfect pacifier that your baby loves, buy extras. Having spare ones at your disposal is not only convenient but ensures a clean pacifier is always on hand. Remember to store them in places where your baby regularly uses their original pacifier, such as in a diaper bag or near a crib. This eliminates the temptation to “quick clean” a dropped pacifier, such as wiping it on your shirt and accidentally introducing your baby to bacteria.
Stop Pacifier Dependency
After putting so much work into finding the right pacifier, you may feel reluctant to wean them off it. However, once your baby reaches around one year old, you must start working on preventing prolonged dependency. Prolonged pacifier dependency can hinder your baby’s oral development and ability to self-soothe.
How To Start Weaning
Introduce pacifier-free time during the day. Gradually increase these periods, focusing on times when your baby is relaxed and happy, such as playtime. Next, limit pacifier use to nap times and nighttime only. Doing so provides comfort when they most need it and slowly breaks the daytime dependency.
Saying Goodbye to the Pacifier
It’s important to stick to the new rules once you start reducing pacifier use. Some parents find it helpful to use a “Pacifier Fairy,” similar to the “Tooth Fairy,” who takes away the pacifier and leaves behind a small toy or gift instead. You can also consider using a stuffed animal pacifier clip and narrating a story about the animal. The stuffed animal can explain to your child that they’ve outgrown the pacifier and no longer want it. The child can keep the stuffed animal as they continue to learn to self-soothe, but the animal no longer has a pacifier attached.
Bunnies by the Bay has a great selection for your baby if they are at least three months old and ready for a stuffed animal pacifier clip. We call them Silly Buddies and they will delight your baby as a fun toy long after you’ve weaned them from the pacifier itself.