by Amy McCarthy
Pacifiers are a great way to soothe your baby, and according to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), they may help reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). For maximum safety with a pacifier, follow these recommendations from the AAP:
- Don't substitute a bottle top & nipple for a pacifier. If you ran out of the house and forgot your child's pacifier at home, you may be tempted to put together the ring top and nipple from their bottle as a quick fix. This, though, is a choking hazard. If your infant sucks hard enough, she could dislodge the nipple from the ring, making it difficult to breathe.
- Purchase the highest quality pacifiers. Pacifiers, like anything else, are susceptible to wear and tear. Buy a pacifier that you are sure can't separate into pieces that would be small enough for your child to choke on. The AAP recommends choosing a pacifier that is made from one solid piece of molded plastic.
- The AAP recommends that pacifiers must be at least 1 and a half inches across, so that your child can't fit the entire pacifier into the mouth. Pacifier shields should be made from strong plastic that has holes for ventilation.
- Never tie a pacifier around your child's neck, crib or hand. Tying the pacifier to the child or crib could result in a serious hazard that could result in injury or even death.
- Pacifiers need to be replaced occasionally. Make sure that your child's pacifier is in good condition - no cracks or breaks in the nipple or plastic, all parts are still attached. It's also important to pay attention to age guides for pacifiers, as toddlers could potentially choke on newborn pacifiers.
- Be sure that you clean your child's pacifier often. If your child drops the pacifier anywhere, wash it in the kitchen sink with hot water and a non-toxic soap. You can also check your specific pacifier to determine if you can put it in the dishwasher or boil it to sanitize.
- Have extras! It's almost a guarantee that your child is going to drop a pacifier or two throughout the day. If you see your child drop their pacifier, immediately replace it with a clean one that you have stowed in a convenient place (living room, kitchen - it's a good idea to have them in a few places). This way, you'll have a constant supply of pacifiers.
You can find more information about pacifier safety at HealthyChildren.org
Updated August 2012
by Amy McCarthy