Binky, paci, bam-bam, soothie, total lifesaver…there are lots of different names for pacifiers and even more varieties to choose from in the drugstore aisle. So how do you know which will soothe your baby or lull her to sleep? The truth is that you might have to try a few different ones before you find one your kid likes. But this handy list of the best pacifiers is a great place to start.
First Things First: Is It Bad to Use a Pacifier?
In short, no. The American Academy of Pediatrics actually recommends that parents offer them to babies one month and older to help reduce the risk of SIDS. (One study found that risk to be reduced by up to 90 percent.) As for any future dental problems, this also isn’t something to worry about provided you follow guidelines. “There is general agreement throughout the medical community that the calming effects of pacifier use for babies can outweigh the dental downsides, and those downsides can be minimized if managed correctly,” Robert Crim, D.D.S., chief dental officer of Smile Brands Inc., tells us. And the best way to do that is to wean early. “To avoid the condition known as ‘pacifier teeth,’ crooked or protruding teeth caused by prolonged pacifier use, a child should be weaned from his pacifier by the age of 2,” says Dr. Crim. Pro tip: Take your child to the dentist when they’re around 1 year old to talk about weaning as well as check in on their dental and anatomical development.
Got It. And What’s an Orthodontic Pacifier?
When you see this on pacifier packaging, it means the product has a rounded top and flat bottom designed to minimize impact on tooth formation. “There is some evidence that this shape can help minimize pacifier teeth, but it is not a substitute for early weaning,” advises Dr. Crim.
What’s the Deal with Pacifiers and Nipple Confusion?
There’s a lot of debate around this issue, and for the most part, it depends on the baby. To reduce the risk of nipple confusion, pediatricians usually recommend waiting until breastfeeding is well established—around 3 to 4 weeks old—before introducing pacifiers or bottles. However, research conducted by Northeastern University found that while nipple confusion can sometimes occur when a baby is given an artificial nipple via a bottle too soon, there is little evidence to indicate that it’s brought on by pacifier use.
1. NUK Orthodontic Pacifiers
“In the early days, my daughter could not keep a pacifier in her mouth and we were desperate for anything to soothe her, so my husband went out and bought every single pacifier at the store. The only one she liked was Nuk’s orthodontic pacifier,” one mom tells us. No surprises there, since these pacifiers are accepted by 95 percent of babies, according to the brand’s market research, which tested 307 pacifier users. With a shape modeled after mom’s nipple, these silicone pacis are BPA-free and have a heart-shaped shield designed to fit under baby’s nose. Oh, and they’re also top-rack dishwasher safe. “They’re cute, easy to clip to her stroller or onesie, and can be sterilized in a special case in the microwave. Thanks for saving my sanity for the past six months, Nuk. Seriously, thank you.”
2. Philips Avent Soothie Snuggle Pacifier
This pick (minus the animal) is frequently used at hospitals to soothe newborns when they get their shots, so you know it’s a brand you can trust. The sweet plush toy attached to this paci (available in different animals such as elephants and giraffes) makes it harder to lose and easier for little hands to grab. “To be honest, I only added this guy to my baby registry because it looked so adorable, but it ended up being crucial for sleep training and teething,” reveals a mom of an 8-month-old. “This soothed my son instantly, but I also liked that it was orthopedic and easy to clean—no weird nooks or crannies for liquid to accumulate.” She also loved that you can put your finger inside the nipple to help the baby latch on (sometimes it can be hard for newborns to “find” the pacifier).
3. Nanobebe Flexy Pacifiers
With an ergonomic shape that contours to baby’s mouth, these BPA- and phthalate-free pacifiers are a firm family favorite. “When my daughter was born, we were given all kinds of pacifiers, and she rejected them all—except the Nanobebe,” an editor tells us. “They’re designed to prevent nipple confusion, but I loved that they were easy to clean and that they helped soothe my daughter when she was fussy, yet not so addictive that she couldn’t sleep or calm down without them.” The only downside of this supersoft paci? There’s no designated place to attach a clip (although moms report attaching a clip to the side with success).
4. MAM Night Pacifiers
“When I had my son, an exceptionally thoughtful friend gifted me a pack of these pacifiers with a Post-it Note on them: ‘Just in case the others don’t work.’ Those words ended up being so true—my son was OK with the more popular brands, but the MAM pacifiers were the only ones that stayed in his mouth and actually soothed...for hours,” one grateful mom raves. Made from BPA-free silicone with an “anti-slip texture,” this pick is great for prolonged soothing. Bonus for parents: These silicone pacis glow in the dark, which is super helpful when babies execute the iconic newborn move that is dropping the pacifier in their sleep. Comes with a storage case that can also be used in the microwave for sterilization. (You can’t add a clip to it, however.)
5. Smilo Newborn Pacifier
For parents who are concerned about future orthodontist bills, check out this dentist-approved pacifier. “I recommend the Smilo brand because it was developed by pediatric dentists in order to prevent long-term anatomical implications,” says Ellen Hoffman, D.M.D. Here’s how: They expand slightly during soothing, which helps to support the palate (as opposed to alternatives that may collapse while in use and can cause cross-bite over time). “They are also BPA-free, which I believe is very important for proper child development,” she adds. To create these pacifiers, a team of dentists inspected mouths from preterm babies to toddlers to create the perfect shape and fit for every stage (the newborn paci is designed for babies up to 2 months).
6. Chicco PhysioForma Pacifier
“My son loved the pacifier that they give all newborns initially...until he didn’t. Then we tried these Chicco ones and now they’re his favorite,” says one mom. These BPA-free pacis are accepted by nine out of ten babies (per a test done on 150 infants) and come in a case you can use to sterilize the pacifier in the microwave. Another great feature? They have an easy-to-hold handle so that your child can eventually pop it back into her mouth all on her own. It can also be attached to a clip for on-the-go soothing.
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