Pacifiers are right up there with diapers as baby essentials. Pacifiers are designed to calm fussy babies — as well as parents’ nerves. Babies have a strong sucking reflex, and popping a pacifier in their mouth can satisfy and soothe crying little ones to sleep.
There’s no one-size-fits-all pacifier, and you need to select an age-appropriate model. Plus, there are different designs, nipple shapes, and materials to consider, all of which we’ve covered in this buying guide. We’ve also included our top recommendations, like the MAM Night Glow-in-the-Dark Pacifier, which helps you and your little one easily find it in the crib in the middle of the night.
Classic pacifiers have a round nipple shape, also called “cherry nipples,” which mimics a natural nipple. These are recommended for breastfed babies to avoid nipple confusion, which can result when switching between a breast and a pacifier/bottle.
Orthodontic nipples are shaped to keep your baby’s jaw in alignment to ensure proper bone development. They can either have an angled nipple or a flattened bottom with a round top; both nipple shapes only have one right side up.
Silicone is the most commonly used nipple material. It’s clear, firm, and easy to clean. Latex is used for a softer, more flexible nipple. Latex nipples are less durable and can create a choking hazard if a baby chews through them. Also, some babies are allergic to latex.
Rubber is a 100% natural material that’s generally chemical-free, though it may contain natural latex. Compared to silicone, it makes for a softer nipple and an eco-friendly one because it’s biodegradable.
Some pacifiers are made from a single piece of material, which reduces the risk of choking. Pacifiers made from component pieces (like a nipple, a shield, and a ring) are combined in one unit but run the risk of breaking apart and posing a choking hazard.
Pacifiers are sized by age. Common sizes are newborn, 3+ months, 6+ months, 12+ months, 16+ months, and 18+ months. These can vary by brand. Pick a pacifier sized appropriately for the age of your child.
Whether one-piece or multi-piece, pacifiers have shields (also known as “guards”) to keep the nipple positioned in your baby’s mouth. This is the most decorative part of the pacifier, and shields can vary in shape and color. For safety, select a shield with ventilation holes so that your baby can breathe.
Two different types of handles are commonly attached to the shield: a ring or a button. A closed-loop ring makes it easy to retrieve a fallen pacifier. A button handle, which is flat and circular, makes it easier for your baby to grasp onto the pacifier.
A fun way to teach your baby motor skills is to purchase a pacifier with a plush toy handle. This is appropriate for older babies to locate a fallen pacifier and pop it back in themselves. It also makes it easier for parents to find in a diaper bag.
For your child’s health, always opt for a pacifier made from BPA-free materials. Bisphenol A (BPA), a potentially harmful chemical, can be found in any of the plastic components of a pacifier, especially the shield. Some manufacturers also offer pacifiers free of PVC and phthalates.
Some pacifiers specialize in soothing teething babies while others are designed to introduce solid foods to your baby.
Pacifiers featuring glow-in-the-dark shields and handles assist half-asleep parents locate a fallen pacifier in the middle of the night.
A carrying case is a handy accessory to store and transport the pacifier and keep the nipple clean while not in use.
Expect to pay between $2.50-$15 for a pacifier. Latex and silicone pacifiers are the most affordable, between $2.50-$4.50 each. Rubber pacifiers cost a bit more, between $7.50-$12 apiece, and pacifiers with toy attachments cost up to $15 apiece.
A. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, it’s best to wait to give your baby a pacifier until after it’s three to four weeks old or to wait until breastfeeding has been established.
A. While your baby’s immune system is developing, sanitize the pacifier frequently by either boiling it or running it through the dishwasher. Once your baby is six months old, you can wash the pacifier by hand with hot water and soap.
MAM’s Night Glow-in-the-Dark Pacifier
Our take: A two pack of nighttime pacifiers that are both cute and functional.
What we like: Glow-in-the-dark feature maintains glow even when not fully charged, so you can always locate it at night. Fun star and moon design. Orthodontic, BPA-free nipple.
What we dislike: Some babies reject the nipple shape.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Philips Avent Ultra Air Pacifier
Our take: A budget-friendly two-pack of starter pacifiers for newborns.
What we like: One-piece silicone pacifier doesn’t pose choking hazard. Bargain-priced beginner pacifiers for babies zero to three months. BPA-free. Easy to sterilize by boiling.
What we dislike: Not all babies latch onto this hospital-favorite brand.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
WubbaNub Infant Pacifier - Mackie
Our take: A favorite plush-toy pacifier for babies newborn to six months.
What we like: Choice of soft animals attached in one piece to pacifier. Silicone pacifier is free of BPA, PVC, and phthalates. Gives babies something comforting to hold onto.
What we dislike: Though easy to retrieve, babies can also easily pull out pacifier because of toy attachment.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
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Ana Sanchez writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.