Safe pacifier use

How do I use a pacifier safely?

If mothers are breastfeeding, it may be best to avoid using a pacifier, but if they do want to use one, they should wait until breastfeeding is well established, usually after one month. It should be used only if mothers are sure that the baby is not hungry and they have tried other options to settle the baby. Pacifiers should be well made. Ones made of latex should be avoided as they may cause an allergic reaction. Pacifiers should be examined regularly, thrown out if damaged, and replaced at least every two months. They should never be hung around the baby’s neck, which can cause strangulation. Pacifiers should be cleaned before the first use and regularly thereafter. If the baby is unable to suck on a pacifier, they should not be forced to do so.

A) Choosing pacifiers

If you are breastfeeding, a pacifier is best used as an emergency tool in a specific situation as there can be risks with their use.

If you do give your baby a pacifier, consider the following:

  • Avoid latex pacifiers because of the risk of allergies.
  • Pacifiers should be well built.
  • Examine the pacifier regularly and throw it out if it appears damaged.
  • Replace the pacifier at least every two months.
  • Strangulation can result if the pacifier is:
    • Hung around the baby’s neck.
    • Attached to another object such as a stuffed toy.

B) Using pacifiers

If you choose to use a pacifier:

  • Wait until breastfeeding has been well established, usually after the first month.
  • Use it only if you are sure your baby is not hungry, is growing well, and you have tried other options to settle the baby.
  • Do not dip it in sweet substances.
  • Do not force a baby to take the pacifier if the baby is unable to suck on it.
  • Use it for comfort only and avoid using it for long periods.

To clean a pacifier:

  • Boil the pacifier in water for five minutes before the first use.
  • Clean the pacifier regularly by washing it in hot, soapy water or by putting it through a dishwasher.

Avoid cleaning pacifiers with antiseptic, antibacterial, or other harsh cleaners as this has been shown to increase the risk of allergies (Soriano 2021).

References

Soriano VX, Koplin JJ, Forrester M, et al. Infant pacifier sanitization and risk of challenge-proven food allergy: A cohort study. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2021 Mar 19:S0091-6749(21)00221-9