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Pacifier Use

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Feb 6, 2023.


What you need to know about pacifiers:

Babies have a natural instinct to suck. The act of sucking can help to calm and comfort a baby. Some babies may calm themselves by sucking on their fingers. Some parents use a pacifier to calm and soothe the baby. Learn about the benefits and risks of pacifiers to help you decide if you want to offer a pacifier to your baby.

Benefits of using a pacifier:

Pacifiers given at nap or bedtime may decrease your baby's risk of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome). A pacifier may help calm a baby during stressful moments. This may include illness or minor procedures such as heel sticks or immunizations. A pacifier may help premature babies transition to regular feedings sooner.

Risks of using a pacifier:

A pacifier may increase your baby's risk of ear infections. To help decrease this risk, stop giving a pacifier or use the pacifier less often after the age of 6 months. Pacifier use after the age of 2 years may increase your baby's risk of dental problems. Pacifiers can affect the shape of your baby's mouth and the way his or her teeth line up.

Other things you should know about using a pacifier:

  • If you are going to breastfeed, wait 4 to 6 weeks before you offer a pacifier. This can allow your baby time to get used to breastfeeding.
  • Some babies may not want to take a pacifier. If your baby does not want to take a pacifier, do not try to make him or her take it.
  • Do not hang a pacifier around your baby's neck or attach it to his or her clothing. This can increase his or her risk of getting strangled.
  • Do not use a pacifier to replace or delay a feeding. Offer a pacifier only when you know he or she is not hungry and does not have other needs that need to be met.
  • Clean your baby's pacifier regularly. Boil a new pacifier for 5 minutes before you give it to your baby. Clean the pacifier regularly by boiling it until your baby is 6 months old. After that, you can wash it using soap and water. Keep extras on hand in case your baby's pacifier gets dirty and you are not in a place where you can wash it properly.
  • Replace your baby's pacifier as needed. Check the pacifier for cracks, tears, or a change in color.
  • Do not buy pacifiers that have decorations or small pieces that can come off. These pieces may cause your baby to choke.

Follow up with your baby's healthcare provider as directed:

Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.