Best Pacifier Practices
If you're breastfeeding, wait until nursing is well established (usually by around one month) before offering a pacifier, recommends Dr. Tupas. Because SIDS is less common in the first month of life, it's reasonable to delay pacifier introduction during this lower-risk period. If you are formula feeding, it's OK to offer a pacifier at birth. Never use a pacifier as a substitute for nursing or feeding, and never coat a pacifier in sugar, honey, or other sweet substances.
While there's no one brand of pacifier that is recommended, well-known brands tend to be well-tested. "In some ways, you get what you pay for," says Dr. Hauck. "I would avoid the five-for-a-dollar pacifiers or anything that looks kind of flimsy." Make sure to choose an age-appropriate size, too.
There is no best shape or type of pacifier, so give your baby the pacifier he enjoys most, says Dr. Tobin. This may mean allowing him to try out several kinds. She adds that pacifiers with clear silicone nipples tend to last longer than the old-fashioned rubber nipples, which break down over time.
Try to keep pacifiers clean, says Dr. Hauck. While the old "stick the pacifier in mom's mouth" trick is still around, Dr. Hauck advises against it. "Running under water is better!" Check your baby's pacifiers frequently, and if they are cracking or showing signs of wear and tear, replace them. Clean new pacifiers before first use according to package directions.
Never tie a pacifier around a baby's neck, says Dr. Hauck. Clip-on tethers that don't go near the neck should only be used while you are observing your baby. Babies should go to bed with a plain pacifier.
Offer the pacifier to your baby at naptimes and bedtime, suggests Dr. Tupas. In fact, many breastfeeding families choose to offer a pacifier only at those times. Once your baby is asleep, the pacifier should not be reintroduced if it falls out of the mouth.
Finally, keep in mind that it's best to start phasing out pacifier use by around one year of age.
And what if your baby wants nothing to do with the pacifier? There's no reason to force her to take it, says Dr. Hauck. "If you try it, and Baby doesn't like it, wait a few weeks and try again. And if the baby still doesn't want it, then just don't worry about it. Just make sure you are following all the other SIDS risk reduction measures. Having your baby sleep on her back is still the most important thing."