CSP Spotlight: Tips for Parents About Pacifier Use

CSP Spotlight: Tips for Parents About Pacifier Use Community Service Programs of West Alabama

Most babies have a natural need to suck, and find it calming.  This type of sucking is called "non-nutritive sucking" because the baby is not being fed.  Giving a baby a pacifier can satisfy a baby’s need to suck.  If parents choose to give their baby a pacifier, here are some tips for using it safely.

  • Wait until breastfeeding is going well (usually after about three to four weeks). If a pacifier is given to a baby before then, nipple confusion may occur and make breastfeeding hard to establish. After a pacifier is introduced, it should never be used to delay or replace regular feedings.
  • Let a baby decide whether to use a pacifier. If a baby shows no interest in using a pacifier, do not force it.
  • Offer a pacifier at nap time and bedtime. If a baby uses a pacifier, the best times to offer it are at nap time and bedtime. Using a pacifier at these times may help lower a baby’s risk for Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).
  • Don’t coat pacifiers. Sucking on a pacifier coated with anything, especially sugar, honey, or jam, increases a baby’s risk for tooth decay.
  • Attach pacifiers with clips that have short ribbons to keep from falling. Never tie a pacifier to a baby’s wrist or neck or to a baby’s crib. The string can get tangled around the baby’s neck and make the baby choke.
  • Clean pacifiers and replace them regularly. Wash a pacifier that has fallen on the ground or floor with soap and warm water before giving it back to a baby. Parents who clean pacifiers with their mouths pass bacteria that cause tooth decay to the baby. Carrying extra pacifiers is a good idea.
  • Check pacifiers for wear and tear. Over time, pacifiers can break down. Look at the rubber every now and then to see if it is discolored, cracked, or torn. If it is, replace it.
  • Do not share pacifiers. Each baby should have their own pacifier(s). Letting babies share a pacifier can pass bacteria that cause tooth decay and increases a baby’s risk for tooth decay.


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