Babies are born to suck, and they can usually start using pacifiers right away. Dr. Mudd notes that pacifiers are often given to premature babies to help them develop the reflexes to suck and swallow.
If you’re breastfeeding, it helps to avoid using a pacifier for the first two to four weeks until your baby has feeding figured out. If you’re bottle-feeding, however, there’s no reason to wait.
Pacifiers are safe to use day and night, even when the baby is sleeping. But avoid using the binky to soothe a hungry baby. “Pacifiers shouldn’t be used to replace or delay meals, so we recommend offering them only when the baby isn’t hungry,” Dr. Mudd says.
My baby won’t take a pacifier
You were counting on using pacifiers. But your wee one isn’t interested. Should you be worried? “Try not to overthink it,” Dr. Mudd says.
While pacifiers can be one tool for decreasing the risk of SIDS, they aren’t the most important. “The most important thing is to practice safe sleep,” Dr. Mudd says. Lie your baby down on their back, on a firm mattress, with no blankets or stuffed animals in the crib. “As long as you’re practicing safe sleep, I wouldn’t be concerned about a baby not wanting a pacifier.”
Pacifier safety: What’s the best pacifier?
The pacifier aisle is almost as overwhelming as the cereal aisle with so many shapes, sizes and colors.
What should you look for in a binky? Dr. Mudd offers these tips for pacifier safety:
- Shape: Pacifiers typically have a nipple made of silicone or rubber connected to a larger piece, called the shield. Dr. Mudd recommends looking for a paci that’s all one piece. “If the nipple and the shield are two separate pieces, there’s a chance they could come apart and pose a choking hazard,” he says.
- Size: Make sure the pacifier shield is large enough so that the baby can’t put the entire thing in their mouth.
- Clean: Look for a pacifier that’s dishwasher-safe for easy cleaning. “Run it through the dishwasher or boil it before the first use,” he says. “After you wash it, make sure to squeeze out any hot water before you give it to the baby.”
- Replace: If the rubber nipple starts to look rough or worn, it’s time to chuck the pacifier and get a new one.
And if you do go the pacifier route, do yourself a favor and stock up, Dr. Mudd says. “It’s always good to have extras on hand. No matter how careful you are, they will be dropped and lost.”