One of the first things that will maybe come to your mind when you picture newborns is pacifiers. They have many names and are also known as a binky, dummy, soother teether and probably some other funny names, that I haven’t heard of yet. But can newborns use pacifiers without any problems or risks?
After all, it is estimated that between 75% – 85% of all children at some point used a binky. But why? And what should you know about them? Can newborns use pacifiers every day? And is it ok for a baby to sleep with a pacifier?
I did a lot of research myself when I had to decide for or against a binky for my little one. And in this article, I will share what I found out and tell you what you need to know.
So, to give you a short answer to the question from the title:
Yes, newborns can and should use pacifiers. They are a long proven and helpful way to make a baby calm, more relaxed and fall asleep quicker. However, there are some aspects you should know about and pay attention to when you decide on a pacifier.
Sounds pretty good so far, right? But there is a lot to know about pacifiers if you want to be on the safe side and do the right thing for your baby.
Why use a pacifier?
Let’s start with the obvious question. Why should you actually use one of those funny things for your baby?
Well, once you hold your newborn in your arm and it is cranky and in a bad mood, try using a pacifier and see what happens. Most babies find it very soothing and naturally relaxing to suck on them and, simply put, a baby that is busy with a pacifier, will most likely not scream at you!
It can also be a welcome distraction from unpleasant things like a shot from the doctor or the first few attempts at taking a bath.
All in all, it seems like a great option to make your life with your new little troublemaker a little bit easier.
But yes, there are also some negative effects which are associated with pacifiers. I will tell you about them later on in this article.
But first, when can you actually start using a pacifier for your baby? Is there a specific time for this useful helper?
When does a baby start to use a pacifier?
To answer this question, it really depends if you are a breastfeeding mother or not.
If you are, you should first make sure that you established an effective and comfortable nursing routine, before you use a pacifier.
Therefore, experts recommend that you wait the first month of a baby’s life before you use a dummy. After 4 weeks you should have settled in a good routine with your little one and you can introduce it to a pacifier.
How often can a baby use a binky?
There are no rules to this really. Once parents found out that it has a positive and soothing effect on their baby, they will use a pacifier pretty much whenever it is necessary and makes sense.
If you decide to use one, you can feel free to give it to your baby whenever you feel like it. Just as mentioned at the beginning of this article, some babies seem like they would never go out of the house with their beloved pacifier.
As you will see later on in this article, more important is, at what age you wean off the dummy.
Is It OK For A Baby To Sleep With A Pacifier?
Not only will a pacifier most likely sooth your baby and make it calm, but there are also no records of negative effects on babies when they sleep with a pacifier! Quite the contrary, this can even lower the risk of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) more than half.
I will tell you more about SIDS later on in this article.
When should a baby stop to use a pacifier?
There are limitations that some dentists give to the usage of a binky. They suggest that you should drastically limit the pacifier time once your baby hits age 2 and they shouldn’t be used anymore around the age of 4.
And here is the reason why dentists give out this suggestion.
Can pacifier cause dental problems?
While most experts say that there is no risk for the teeth when babies use a pacifier during the first 2 years of life, it can cause malocclusion when they are frequently used after this period.
Malocclusion means, that the teeth may don’t align properly when the mouth is closed and this can end up in malfunctions, such as a crossbite in the back or an open bite in the front.
Furthermore, experts say that the possibility that this will happen also depends on how vigorously the baby sucks.
So if the infant puts a lot of energy and strength in the sucking, visible problems could already occur after 1 1/2 years of life.
So it really depends and my personal opinion after my research on this topic is, that I would slowly get rid of any dummies after year 1.
From my own experience, there were no problems even after 2 years of usage, but now I know that it always depends on the situation and that it might be different for some babies.
Ear Infections Caused By Binkies
During my research, I came across the statement that binkies could cause middle ear infections.
And yes indeed, there are studies (like this one here) that show a connection between these two things.
BUT experts say, that just if your newborn has frequent problems with ear infections, it would be good to try and get rid of the pacifier. Instead of doctor appointments and antibiotics, this might already cure the problem.
Otherwise, it would still be perfectly fine to use a binky, if your baby is not susceptible to ear infections.
What pacifier is the best?
First of all, you want to get the right size.
Usually, the package of the pacifier will tell you for what age group the chosen model is made for. Make sure to get the right one, so it won’t cause any problems.
The next thing that is important for the right choice is, of course, the material it is made of.
Usually, the nipple on binkies is made of latex or silicone.
While latex is mostly softer, it can also cause allergies. So you are probably best of with silicone since it is the most common one and you can even put the pacifier in the dishwasher to clean it.
Last but not least, the shield is important. It is the part that has to be big enough, so your baby won’t swallow the nipple.
So make sure that this part is 1.5 inches or bigger.
It is really important that the shield is big enough to NOT fit in the baby’s mouth. If it would be a model without ventilation holes in the shield and the baby would get the pacifier inside its throat, it could be extremely dangerous.
You also should look for a binky with a ring instead of models with cords or strings, as those could cause strangulation in the worst case.
After finding out what is important, we decided to go for this pacifier. It had the best reviews and has everything we asked for.
Chemicals In Pacifiers
You should also make sure that your pacifier is NOT made with certain ingredients like BPA (Bisphenol A).
After being linked to heart disease and cancer, it was not used anymore for sippy cups and bottles as before.
Manufactures also used this ingredient for binkies, and some of them might still have it in their products. So make sure to check in detail, what exactly you put in your child’s mouth.
There are also other chemicals like BPS and BPF (Bisphenol S and F) that might be used in pacifiers, and that also can cause serious health issues. The chances might be very low, but it still can be a risk. So it is always better to know what is actually in your binky. As mentioned before, make sure to check the ingredients to be on the safe side.
Can a pacifier really prevent SIDS?
I mentioned it before when we talked about binkies and sleeping babies.
Multiple studies (for example this one) have shown, that the risk of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) can be drastically lowered when a pacifier is used during sleeping periods.
That is why numerous experts suggest offering a pacifier to infants when they are being placed in bed. And this is valid for all sleep episodes. This includes not only the nighttime sleep but also daytime naps.
SIDS still occur to 38 out of 100,000 infants, and most of the time while they are sleeping. So it is a good thing to use a pacifier if it can lower the risk of SIDS.
What If The Pacifier Falls Down?
One of the downsides of a pacifier might be, that it can turn into a real germ-bomb and therefore, should always be kept clean. Especially when it falls on the ground, parents should make sure that it is clean before they give it back to the baby.
You might have seen parents that cleaned a dropped binky by putting it in their own mouths and ‘clean’ it that way. Of course, this is NOT recommended and is not the way you should do it.
You are better off by using a fresh one, which is why you should have 3 or 4 pacifiers for your baby. That way, you make sure that there will always be a fresh one available in an emergency when your baby has a really cranky time for example.
How to clean a pacifier?
Especially in the first 6 months of life, an infants immune system is still weak and more vulnerable. So it is your job to minimize unnecessary risks.
Before the first usage, you should put the binky for about 5 minutes in boiling water. This will make sure that there are no harmful bacteria left.
Repeat that boiling routine every now and then and/or put the paci in the dishwasher.
After the first 6 months, it might be enough if you wash them with a bit of soap and water.
But you know the deal: better safe than sorry!
Also, you should change the binky at least every 2 months, since old and used ones are a higher risk for your little rascal.
Some parents also swear on especially for pacifiers produced wipes. These can become very handy of course if you are outside with your little one. Maybe on a trip or long car ride, where you can not wash a dirty binky.
In these cases, those sterilizing wipes kill all harmful bacteria and make the paci clean again and ready for your baby.
Is it hard to wean off?
One of the alleged downsides to a pacifier you hear sometimes is, that if you frequently use a binky to calm down your baby or use it effectively (which it totally is) as part of a sleeping routine, it would be hard one day get rid of it again.
Your baby might need it to sleep, otherwise, it will cry for it.
And yes, it actually can be hard to wean off the pacifier and your baby might need a bit of time to be fine without it. They build a connection and it can become a routine. Laying down in bed, sucking on a binky, sleeping. So if there is no binky, it might be harder to fall asleep for a little while.
Also, during the time your baby uses a binky, it can happen that the baby wakes up in the middle of the night and it is not placed in their mouth anymore and just fell out while they were dreaming. They can’t fall back asleep without it and we all know what the result would be: crying. In the middle of the night. Until someone comes and places the paci back in their mouth. So yes, it actually can be a hassle to wean off the binky again.
But we have some tips for you.
How to wean off pacifiers?
Time heals all wounds, right? And in some cases, time also makes you forget.
So your job is now, to make your baby around year 1 to 2 of its life forget about their companion, their good old binky.
The best way to do this is to stop offering the binky outside the sleeping times.
After this, you won’t give the pacifier for daytime naps anymore.
And finally, the last step will be when there won’t be a pacifier anymore for the night time sleep as well.
You can switch to a cute stuffed animal instead that becomes the new buddy of your baby.
If you need some inspiration for a really good and highly recommended stuffed animal that takes care of your little one in the crib, we stumbled upon this little fella, which is on the top of the Amazon lists: Lil Benny Phant.
Another thing that not only could help your baby make forget pacifiers but also drastically improving their sleeping behavior and calm them down is white noise! Check out this article, if you want to know more.
After everything you and me learned here now, we should lighten the mood a bit. And there are some super funny and hilarious pacifiers out there, that do exactly that. Check out our shop!
We hope you found everything that crossed your mind when you were thinking about the use of pacifiers and especially the answer to the question ‘is it ok for a baby to sleep with a pacifier?‘.
All in all, a good pacifier was always and is still a recommendation. Make sure to use the right product and follow some easy rules. If you do it right, a paci will be a total win for you and your baby.
See you in the next article!