Safety tips for your baby’s pacifier

The pacifier is possibly the smallest item you will need for your newborn. And in the world of mega-travel systems and digital video monitors, it is arguably the least expensive “necessity” you will buy for your baby. What most expectant and new parents relegate to impulse purchase is something that merits more consideration, and demands more research. After all, a baby’s pacifier is one of two or three infant products that is actually designed to go in your baby’s mouth.

Pacifiers help babies learn how to soothe themselves, can aid in the development of a calmer infant and can provide vital non-nutritive sucking without interfering with breastfeeding.

There are some important tips to keep in mind when selecting a baby’s pacifier or bringing one home that was provided for your newborn in the hospital.

Pacifier selection and safety tips:

*   Look for “one piece” construction . This reduces the risk of the pacifier pieces separating from use or age which could pose a choking hazard. In addition, this construction makes it easier to keep clean. Multiple piece pacifiers have nooks and crannies where dirt, germs and lint can get trapped, making it difficult to completely clean or disinfect the pacifier.

*   Opt for silicone . Silicone is the most durable material for pacifiers. Other materials can break down more rapidly with use and cleaning.

*   Never alter the shape of the pacifier . Even though pacifiers are typically available in “newborn” (small) and the larger “infant” sizes to accommodate babies at different ages and stages, some popular varieties have large face shields that cover much of the infants lower face. If the pacifier is too large for your baby’s face or interferes with the nose, do not trim, cut or alter the pacifier in any way. Instead, select a contoured pacifier that hugs your infant’s face.

*   Inspect your pacifiers frequently . Look for dishwasher safe models and clean them frequently. Check your pacifiers after each cleaning to ensure they are sound and replace immediately if you see tears or cracks.

*   Select a pacifier with a handle designed to attach pacifier clips . Many new parents mistakenly believe the ventilation holes on the sides of pacifiers are there in order to attach pacifier clips. This is not only incorrect, it is a safety hazard. The holes are there for safety. They are designed to keep your baby from suffocating in the unlikely event a pacifier is aspirated. Look for pacifiers that have a handle specifically designed to hold a pacifier clip or attacher. If your pacifier doesn’t have a handle, make sure to remove the clip from the ventilation holes before putting the pacifier into baby’s mouth.

*   If breastfeeding, wait to introduce the pacifier until your baby is 1 month old . By this age your baby will have developed good latching on and feeding technique, helping ensure the pacifier is used for non-nutritive sucking/soothing versus replacing meals.

*   Rely on a pacifier brand hospitals trust . There are as many different pacifiers, sold at virtually every kind of store imaginable, as there are different parenting theories. Determining which one to use can be difficult at best. Hospitals rely on top quality pacifiers that were developed by medical professionals to not only meet safety standards, but also to meet very specific infant needs. Relying on their recommendations can help ensure you are providing your infant with the pacifier that has met the hospital’s stringent guidelines for safety and durability.