While food, sleep, and a clean diaper might be the first course of action for an upset baby, sometimes there’s no clear reason for why babies fuss. Enter the pacifier, soothing babies and saving the sanity of parents around the world for over a century now. Christian W. Meineck applied for a patent for the “baby comforter” in 1901. We also know that necessity is the mother invention and that tired parents were turning to creative soothing objects like bones and knotted rags long before Meineck’s product hit the market.
It’s fair to say that since then we’ve witnessed a few much needed upgrades to the old baby comforter, now commonly known as a pacifier, dummy, or binky. The modern pacifier is typically made from rubbery silicone and shaped to mimic a nipple. Below, you’ll find everything you need to know about finding the right pacifier for your baby. We’ll take a look at what you need to know about using and cleaning this baby essential as well as round up some of the best products on the market.
The Need to Know on Pacifiers
If you’re planning to use a pacifier for your new baby, there are a couple things you want to know first. Pacifiers aren’t foolproof. Once you understand how to keep it clean and the risk of nipple confusion, you’ll be all set for adding this baby product to your essentials list.
Keeping your baby’s pacifier clean. The experts at the Mayo Clinic recommend that pacifiers be quickly cleaned before every use. Additionally, they suggest regular, more thorough washing by boiling it in hot water or running it through the dishwasher. Some options even come with their own case to be used for microwave sanitation!
Establish breastfeeding first. There is a bit of debate about whether or not using a pacifier or bottle early on can cause nipple confusion for breastfeeding babies. Nipple confusion is a catch all term used when it is suspected that use of an artificial nipple is making it harder for a baby to latch.
Whether or not a baby will struggle at the breast after using a pacifier is impossible to predict, but the La Leche League has a few ideas for precautions you can take just in case:
- Establish breastfeeding for up to four weeks before introducing a bottle or pacifier.
- Make sure your healthcare providers and anyone else spending time with your baby knows if you want to wait to use a pacifier.
- If your baby requires formula or donor milk supplementation, look into using a supplemental mental nursing system, or SNS, early on to avoid nipple confusion.
The Best Pacifiers for Your Baby
Now that we’ve cleared up a few things about using a pacifier, let’s take a look at some of the best products you can offer your baby.
Best Overall Pick: Philips Avent Soothie
Truly Mama Recommended
The parents of the internet have spoken, giving the Philips Avent Soothie a perfect five stars with over 10,000 reviews on Amazon. Soothe your baby’s cries while resting easy knowing you’ve chosen a binky made with safe materials that is easy to keep clean.
The Philips Avent Soothie is the best baby pacifier because it follows the guidelines provided by the American Academy of Pediatrics and many hospitals turn to this brand. The makers boast that, because of the orthodontic design, parents don’t need to worry about compromising their childs’ oral development. It is also incredibly easy to keep clean. It is dishwasher safe and can be sanitized til your heart’s content because it is durable enough to maintain its color and shape with long term use.
Philip Avent Soothie Features:
- BPA and latex-free silicone
- Dishwasher safe
- Sizes available for babies zero to 18 months
- Chose from green, blue, pink, or purple
Negative reviews are hard to come by with five star products, but one parent reviewer on Walmart pointed out that the shape didn’t work for her daughter. If you’ve offered your baby a pacifier before, this feedback likely isn’t surprising. Sometimes the best pacifier isn’t the highest-rated, it’s that one your baby finally doesn’t spit out!
“As of right now, we are exclusively breastfeeding and this pacifier does not make for nipple confusion with him where he would steer away from that…The design is simple yet functional and my new babe enjoys using them. Needless to say, this pacifier is always very close to my new babe at all times.” — Walmart.com Review.
Best Design: Dr. Brown’s Newborn Pacifier
Truly Mama Recommended
There’s nothing wrong with being second best, and Dr. Brown’s Newborn Pacifier is a shining example of stellar design. This option will check all your boxes as a safe, reliable, and comforting accessory for your baby.
Like many silicone pacifiers, Dr. Brown’s Newborn Pacifier is one continuous piece with no cracks or crevices that can trap dirt, soap, and spit-up. They took the design one step further, creating a curved shape that makes space for round noses and chubby cheeks to help prevent the constant dropping often experienced with other pacifiers during the newborn phase. It’s made from medical grade silicone that is BPA-free. When you’re ready to wash it, you can toss it on the top-rack of your dishwasher.
While negative reviews are few, one consistent complaint is that the pacifier design has recently changed. I definitely feel for parents who finally found the perfect binky for their babe, only to experience a product design change!
“These are my son’s favorite pacifiers! I like that they’re all one piece, and he likes that I can hold it in his mouth with a finger or thumb in the middle cavity. ok, I also like that, because it’s easier to help him keep it in his mouth when he’s trying to turn his head away from me but still wants the pacifier.” — Walmart.com Review.
Easiest to Hang On To: WubbaNub Brown Monkey
Truly Mama Recommended
How many minutes of your life have been spent picking up pacifiers off the grocery store floor and hunting for them under a crib? The WubbaNub Brown Monkey is just what you need to finally hang onto that pacifier, for good.
On Amazon, 2,621 parents gave this pacifier-luvie combo a five star rating. While this is the most expensive option on this list, it is also more than just a pacifier. It includes a BPA-free, medical-grade silicone nipple with a plush monkey attached. The appeal isn’t just that it’s stinkin adorable, this combination is also a safe way to keep track of your baby’s pacifier with little effort. You can also shop other plush pals from WubbaNub, including a penguin and a brown puppy.
One negative aspect worth pointing out is that cleaning this pacifier is kind of a pain. The two parts, the plush and the nipple, are sewn together. Parents have had to get creative to keep their paci as clean as they’d like, including washing the whole thing in the dishwasher and then hanging it overnight so the animal can dry. Better keep at least one extra handy!
“Absolutely fantastic product WubbaNub! The added weight of the attached stuffed animal and the added stability from the arms and legs keep this pacifier firmly planted in my daughter’s face. She also loves the soft texture of the fur and often squeezes and rubs the arms while drifting off to sleep.” — Amazon.com Review.
Best for Breastfeeding Latch: Evenflo Feeding Balance Stage 1
Truly Mama Recommended
For parents with concerns about nipple confusion, the Evenflo Feeding Balance Stage 1 was made with you in mind. It is specifically designed to mimic a nursing latch, making it the best pacifier for a breastfed baby.
When a baby is properly latched at the breast, their tongue actually cups or curves under the nipple. While sucking on this pacifier, their tongue will do just that around the nipple shape of the binky, which may help avoid problems with breastfeeding associated with nipple confusion. Stage 1 is specifically for babies between the ages of zero and 6 months and includes a large, silicone handle your baby will easily be able to hang onto as they get older.
The creators used a soft, medical-grade silicone that is BPA free and boast that the materials used are flexible enough to avoid fatigue and keep your baby comfortable during use. The one downside to this pacifier is that some parents are reporting it to be a little large for a brand new baby.
“Took 4 months to find the pacifier she’ll take. This one was the winner. I like that it’s got a handle I can attach to any paci holder and that it’s solid, so no nooks for germs to take hold. I like the breathing holes because she often pops it in her mouth sideways or upside down but she can still breathe comfortably. Good paci.” – Amazon.com Review
Best Redesign: NUK Sensitive Orthodontic Pacifier
Truly Mama Recommended
Parents can breathe easy knowing their baby is doing just that while sucking on the NUK Sensitive Orthodontic Pacifier. Positive reviews say it was recently redesigned and this was a smart move that made this pacifier one of the best.
According to NUK, they designed the Sensitive Orthodontic Pacifier with breastfeeding babes in mind. By shaping the nipples just like moms, it encourages the baby’s tongue to curve around the nipple just as it should while breastfeeding. It is also designed to allow for easy breathing for the babe, with a curve shape along the top of the pacifier where it sits under the nose. Keeping it clean is a breeze, too, since each NUK pacifier comes in a carrying case that can be used to sanitize it in the microwave.
This new design is an upgrade on previous models of NUK. One reviewer pointed out that the biggest improvement made to this model is changing it into one, continuous piece. While water used to get trapped in older NUK models, creating problems with mold, this is no longer a problem with this new option.
Most Stylish: Nanobebe Flexy Newborn Pacifier
Truly Mama Recommended
When Nanobebe designed their Flexy Newborn Pacifier, following the American Academy of Pediatrics guidelines wasn’t enough, they also created something that is sleek and stylish. Accessorize your baby with the choice of a teal, white, pink, or grey rim made from clear, medical-grade silicone,
With 61 reviews on Target.come, the Nanobebe Flexy Newborn Pacifier has a 4.7 star rating. According to creators, an ergonomic design makes it comfortable for the baby and less likely to fall out while encouraging healthy oral development. Like other favorites on this list, it is all one piece. So, when you follow manufacturer instructions and boil it to sterilize, you don’t have to worry about germs getting trapped in cracks.
“Our baby took to the Nanobebe pacifier right away, it’s shape is designed to mimic the mother’s nipple. He had no problems breastfeeding afterwards and continues to feed well. This pacifier is a game changer for our nap time routine. Baby is happy and this mama is so glad to get a break! Will purchase again.” Target.com Review
Most Creative Design: Doddle & Co Pop Pacifier
Truly Mama Recommended
If you’ve seen one pacifier, you’ve seen them all, right? That’s how I felt until I saw this genius and adorable pacifier from Doddle & Co. Parents love this pacifier because it comes with built-in protection from dirts and germs.
What makes the Doddle & Co Pop Pacifier so special? While your baby is using the pacifier, the nipple is extended. However, if they drop it and it falls on the ground, the pacifier pops back into a protective bubble. Not sure which option is right for your baby? The Pop is designed for younger babies, under 3 months. Once they start to put things in their mouth, the creators recommend transitioning your baby to the Pop & Go, made with a durable silicone that can withstand the gnawing of teething babies.
Beyond the genius way this pacifier protects itself from germs, it’s pretty cute too. It’s available in a variety of muted colors, including blue, blush, and buttercup. Of course, innovative design doesn’t mean failing to comply with important safety guidelines. It is made from high-grade silicone that is free from BPA, latex, PVC, and phthalates.
“I love this pacifier! To be able to throw it in a diaper bag or cup holder and not have it get dirty is the best concept! The colors are so cute and very fashion-forward! I love the design and my daughter loves the paci! I also love the message behind the brand and that it is mom/female-founded! Thanks for a great product, will recommend to all my mama friends!” —Amazon Review
Pacifier Accessories We Love
If you’re going to grab the best pacifier for your baby, you might as well have the best accessories too. These little add ons make parenting easier and every little bit counts when you’re taking care of a brand new person.
Skip Hop Grab & Go. Never fish around the bottom of your diaper bag again. The Skip Hop Grab & Go is a small, zip-up case that can be hooked to your bag or purse so you always have a clean pacifier within reach.
Munchkin Mini Portable UV Sterilizer. Sterilize on the go. The Munchkin Mini Portable UV Sterilizer uses UV-C to eliminate 99 percent of bacteria and viruses that could be found on the surface of your baby’s favorite pacifier. Since it runs on batteries, it travels well to daycare, grandmas, or a day at the park.
LouLou Lollipop Colorblock Wood & Silicone Clip. Once your little one is on the go, their pacifier will be too—under the crib, in the dog bowl, on the minivan floor. Help your baby hang onto their binky with the adorable LouLou Lollipop Colorblock Wood & Silicone Clip. Free from BPA, PVC, lead, and phthalates, this accessory isn’t just cute, it’s safe for daily use.
Babygoal Silicone Pacifier Clip. Silicone beads adorn this pacifier clip in your favorite color combination, like yellow and pink or blue and grey. Using food-grade, BPA-free silicone beads, Babygoal created the Silicone Pacifier Clip to double as a safe teething toy for growing babies.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can my baby sleep with a pacifier?
Yes! In fact, many experts advise parents to use pacifiers primarily during sleeping times. Researchers have determined that pacifier use is safe during sleep and some studies have found a link between their use and reduced risk of sudden infant death syndrome, or SIDS. One note, remove your baby’s pacifier clip before putting them to bed.
My baby won’t take a pacifier. What do I do?
You’re not alone! Many parents report struggling to get their baby to accept a pacifier. While there is no official advice on this predicament, the most common advice shared online by veteran parents is to keep trying as they get older and try different brands and models. Don’t force it or try too frequently, your baby could develop an aversion to the paci!
When should my baby stop using a pacifier?
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, the risks of using a pacifier begin to outweigh the benefits after a baby is 36 months. To avoid long term effects to your child’s oral development, it’s a good idea to work towards weaning between 2 and 4 years of age.
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Reviewed by Chaunie Brusie, RN, BSN…