Are you worried your new baby will cry so much that neither of you will get any sleep?
Do you want to be able to have a meal at a restaurant in peace or have a friend over for a conversation once your baby is born — without loud crying interrupting you?
If you answered yes to either of those questions, you might want to consider buying a pacifier.
The best pacifiers can do wonders when it comes to keeping your baby content — sucking on them can instantly calm down a fussy baby.
- Compatible with many attachments
- Made of silicone
- Orthodontic pacifier
- One-piece construction
- Small in size and lightweight
- Comes with a sterilizing case
- Soft nipple with anti-slip surface
- One piece pacifiers
- Hospital grade silicone
- Wide base prevents from choking
- Easy for baby to grab
- No latex, BPA, PVC or phthalates
- Soft medical-grade silicone
- Unique, one-piece design
- All-natural rubber
- Simulates the feel of breast
- Can be used with pacifier clip
- Comes with a sterilizing case
- Won’t make any marks
- Comes with a cap
- With air vents in the shield
- Easy to clean and dishwasher safe
- Won’t gag infants
What Is a Pacifier?
In a nutshell, pacifiers are nipples that babies can suck on, but they differ from bottles because they aren’t used for feeding at all — they are solely used for comfort.
And when you have an angry baby who won’t stop crying, a pacifier can be one of the best tricks you have so you’ll both get some comfort.
Does My Baby Want a Pacifier?
Since babies can’t talk and tell us what they want, we’re left guessing and trying to decode their behavior.
If your baby continues to suck on a bottle even after it’s empty or seems to suckle your breast without any intention of drawing out milk, they might want a pacifier. The same is true if you see them sucking on her fingers or on toys.
Choosing the Best Pacifier
Pacifiers vary in size, nipple shape, and style. Here are the factors you’ll need to consider when choosing the best pacifiers.
- Size: Most packages will tell you what age group they are made for. Usually, the breakdown is for 6 months and under; 6 to 18 months; and older than 18 months. This is important because a smaller pacifier with a bigger baby can be a choking hazard because they can fit the whole pacifier in their mouth.
- What the nipple is made out of: Nipples are usually made out of silicone or latex. Latex is generally softer, but some babies may have latex allergies, so you’ll have to weigh your options about what type of material you want to use. Silicone is the more popular choice for pacifiers and it can also be put in the dishwasher.
- The shield: The shield is what stops your baby from sucking the pacifier fully into their mouth, which is a choking hazard. It needs to be big enough to prevent that from happening. A good benchmark is that the guard should be 1.5 inches or bigger.
The Best Pacifiers of 2020
Now that you know what to look for, let’s take a look at the top brands currently on the market.
1. The First Years GumDrop Newborn Pacifier
Pacifiers for breastfed babies should not interfere with a baby’s breastfeeding. For that reason, you should look for a nipple that doesn’t cause confusion between the pacifier and the breast. Remember if you’re introducing a pacifier for a breastfed baby to wait until they are at least a month old and their latch is well established.
The First Years GumDrop Pacifier comes in a two-pack and is designed to stay away from your baby’s nose. That will allow them to breathe easier when they use their pacifiers and it will make you feel more comfortable with them using their pacifier.
The pacifier is made of silicone and it is a one-piece design. That’s nice because you won’t have to worry about any parts breaking off.
These are BPA free, phthalate-free and latex-free. These are made for babies who are newborns to 3 months. But as your baby ages, you can find this brand in bigger sizes which would be more appropriate for older babies.
- Compatible with many attachments.
- Gives your baby room to breathe.
- Since it’s silicone, you won’t have to worry about latex allergies.
- Hair tends to stick to these pacifiers.
- Some moms have had trouble with their babies’ fingers getting stuck in the holes.
2. NUK Newborn Silicone Pacifiers
When your baby has colic you would do anything in your power to get her to stop crying, even for just an hour. Sometimes babies with colic just need a pacifier they like. That can soothe their crying long enough for both of you to get some sleep.
If your baby has colic, you’ll be relying on a pacifier a lot to soothe him. For that reason, you might want to hedge your bets by getting an orthodontic pacifier. The shape of the pacifier was designed to fit into a baby’s palate naturally. That helps with proper dental development.
The NUK orthodontic pacifier uses silicone materials and comes in a two pack. The shield is heart-shaped, which is nice because it dips right under your baby’s nose, giving more breathing room.
You’ll be pleased to know they’re made in the U.S. and are BPA free.
- This shape of nipple exercises your baby’s tongue and jaw.
- One-piece construction, meaning there are no parts that could be removed and become a choking hazard.
- This shape of nipple is also supposed to soothe babies more.
- They make a slight squeaking noise for some babies when they suck on them.
- These are a heavier pacifier which your baby may not appreciate.
3. MAM Newborn Start Pacifier
When shopping for a newborn pacifier, you’ll want to find something that is small and light enough for newborns to keep in their mouths. If the pacifier is too big or heavy, it’ll fall out every few minutes, if it makes it that long. That will mean a lot of extra cleaning for you.
These MAM newborn pacifiers, which are perfect for babies up to two months old, come in a set of two. They have a curved shield to allow your baby a better airflow. This pacifier also has big air holes in the shield to help even more with making sure your baby can easily suck and breathe at the same time.
It has a convenient button on the end of the pacifier so both you and your baby can easily grab onto the pacifier. It also allows you to attach it to a clip.
The silicone nipple is soft and it has an anti-slip surface that will help the pacifier stay in your baby’s mouth instead of falling out.
- Small in size and lightweight for newborn babies.
- Comes with a sterilizing case.
- The nipple is softer like a mom’s nipple.
- When you wash the pacifier, water gets trapped inside.
- Some moms have had problems with the sterilizing container melting in the microwave.
4. Philips Avent Soothie Pacifier
When you’re looking for a pacifier for a baby with Down Syndrome, you should avoid orthodontically correct pacifiers. The shape of those pacifiers doesn’t seem to work well for babies with Down Syndrome. They often will reject them. You should go with a different shape to ensure he’ll take to his pacifier.
You’ll get a six-pack of baby pacifiers when you buy Philips Avent Soothie pack. You don’t need to be worried that it’s too many though.
I had three pacifiers with my first daughter and it wasn’t enough for me. I could never keep track of those things and I frequently had panicked moments where I was searching every nook and cranny of the house before heading out for the day. Having 6 pacifiers would have reduced my constant worry over where they were.
These are a lighter green color, which is better than clear ones in my opinion — it’s too easy to overlook clear pacifiers. They tend to blend into their surroundings.
- One-piece pacifiers.
- They are made out of hospital-grade silicone.
- They can be used with pacifier clips.
- The base is easily wide enough so your baby won’t suck the whole pacifier in her mouth and choke.
- Moms have had problems with their babies’ fingers getting stuck in the holes on these.
- These are a very rigid pacifier — some babies won’t like that.
5. WubbaNub Brown Puppy Pacifier
Babies who have cleft palate have trouble forming the suction that’s needed to keep a pacifier in their mouths. If you want your baby to have a pacifier, you might have to hold it in place for her. You’ll probably be most successful with a soft, silicone pacifier.
The nipple on the WubaaNub is made of soft medical-grade silicone. And to top it all off, there’s a stuffed animal attached at the other end. So your baby is essentially getting a pacifier and a toy all at once.
The weight of the stuffed animal may help keep the pacifier in place for a baby who struggles to keep suction going. At the very least, the stuffed animal will be more comfortable for you to hold in place than the tiny end of a pacifier will be.
- Easy for your baby to grab.
- They have no latex, BPA, PVC or phthalates.
- Because of the attached animal, it’s much more difficult to lose.
- It’s more expensive than traditional brands.
- This will be harder to use for babies who squirm around a lot.
6. Natursutten Natural Rubber Pacifier
Little hands can cause big breaks. Prevent your baby from breaking their pacifier while simultaneously giving them more control over it with this special one-piece design. Unique and hygienic, it’ll change the way you see pacifiers.
Unlike normal baby pacifiers, which often have an attached handle or shield, this one is a single piece of all-natural rubber. A single rod connects directly to the shield which blends perfectly into the rounded nipple. With no joints or cracks, dirt and bacteria can’t get trapped and accumulate.
Your child will also have an easier time grasping on it so they can hold it in their mouth or remove it when they don’t want it. While moms may not always appreciate this independence, your baby sure will.
The super soft and supple shield is designed to touch your baby’s nose to mimic the feel of your breast. This not only helps to prevent nipple confusion for breastfeeding babies but also comforts and self-soothes.
- Unique, one-piece design offers multiple benefits.
- Made of all-natural rubber that’s soft and supple.
- Simulates the feel of your breast.
- The all-rubber design can emit a strong scent when it becomes hot in the sun.
7. MAM Clear Orthodontic Pacifier
Orthodontic pacifiers can give peace of mind to moms who are worried about future dental issues. If you plan to use a pacifier right up until your child turns 2, you should go with orthodontic pacifiers. That will help your baby’s developing mouth avoid as many dental problems as possible.
The orthodontic nipple this pacifier uses will protect your baby’s teeth and jaw while they are still developing.
It uses a silicone nipple that feels more like the real thing. The shield has a textured surface and several holes which help the air circulate and reach your baby’s nose. It can also stop your baby from getting a sweaty face when using the pacifier in the summer.
These pacifiers also have a knob on the back which makes them easier to grab. Children ages newborn to 6 months can use these baby pacifiers, which come in a set of two.
- Can be used with a pacifier clip.
- Comes with a sterilizing case.
- Won’t make any marks on your baby’s face when he’s sucking on it.
- Some of the holes in the pacifier are big enough for your baby to get a finger caught.
- These shields might be a little too big for smaller newborns.
8. Philips Avent Orthodontic Pacifier
This set has two pacifiers that have a bigger-sized nipple that babies with lip tie will be able to hang on to. The silicone nipple is BPA free. When it comes time to cleaning the pacifier, you can pop it in the dishwasher which is a nice time saver for busy moms who want to make sure the pacifiers are being thoroughly cleaned.
These even come with a cap that you can snap on to keep them clean between uses.
Because these don’t have a taste or smell to them, they even work well for babies who are breastfeeding.
- These are affordable.
- They have a ring handle which will be easier for older babies to grab.
- There are air vents in the shield.
- Some moms have complained about problems with mildew with these pacifiers.
- These nipples are harder.
9. Playtex Binky Silicone Pacifier
When you have a fussy baby on your hands, you need to find a pacifier that she really likes because fussy babies can get irritated by almost anything -- even their pacifiers. You may need to work to find ones she won’t spit out, but don’t give up. You’ll find something that works for her.
Some babies fuss a lot more than others and that can continue from the time they’re born to when they reach the Terrible Twos.
This pacifier will sit in a baby’s mouth well, especially those who are breastfed, because they are shaped like a mom’s nipple is. It’s shorter and stubbier than those long bulbous nipples on other pacifiers. This works well for babies who seem to gag on those bigger nipples. It’s especially effective for newborns who tend to be fussier than older children.
It has vents in the shield that help protect a baby’s skin from constant irritation. These pacifiers come in a two-pack.
- Easy to clean and dishwasher safe.
- BPA free.
- Won’t gag infants and smaller babies.
- Pricier than some other pacifiers.
- Babies who are used to pacifiers with big nipples may not like these.
10. Philips Respironics Wee Thumbie Pacifier
Everything about a preemie is small, even her mouth. So you need a small pacifier that will work well with the smallest of babies. You’ll want a short nipple that won’t gag your baby when she’s trying to suck. It won’t take a very big nipple for that to happen.
This tiny pacifier is made for babies who are less than 30 weeks old, according to their gestational age.
These pacifiers were specially designed to comfort and soothe the smallest of babies. The pacifier was designed to be the size and shape of a preemie’s thumb.
For your baby’s safety and to ensure good hygiene, the company recommends that you replace this pacifier every four weeks. If your baby is an older preemie, that won’t mean many replacements. But if you have a younger preemie, you could be replacing this three times.
- It will fit tiny preemie mouths.
- It’s BPA free.
- It helps babies learn sucking motions that are usually learned before they are born.
- You have to boil it for five minutes before the first use.
- It needs to be replaced often.
- It’s fairly expensive.
When Should I Introduce a Pacifier?
Your baby shouldn’t have a pacifier right from birth. It can cause problems if you introduce it too soon. Because breastfeeding and pacifiers use different sucking motions, implementing one too soon may cause confusion and issues with learning a proper latch for breastfeeding (1).
Try introducing a pacifier around the one-month mark, provided your baby is gaining weight and appears to be doing well with breastfeeding. If your baby is still having issues with breastfeeding at this age, hold off on introducing the pacifier, as at this point, they might have latch confusion.
Advantages of Using Pacifiers
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) states that when used correctly, it’s perfectly fine to give your baby a pacifier.
One of the biggest advantages of using pacifiers is that they could potentially save your child’s life. Studies have shown that babies who use pacifiers while they are sleeping are at a lower risk of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome), with some studies saying the risk is possibly decreased by up to 90 percent (2).
Other advantages of pacifiers include:
- To soothe and distract during vaccinations: Vaccinations are hard on your little one. There’s that instantaneous pain they feel and then there is that discomfort they go through in the first day or two after vaccinations. Pacifiers can help with that.
- It could help your baby fall asleep: If you have a baby who fights sleep, pacifiers are a good way to help fall asleep while cutting back on their crying. It helps them self soothe, especially breastfed babies who get a lot of comfort from their mother’s breast.
- They’re good for flights: Pacifiers are perfect for helping babies feel more comfortable during the flight. The sucking motion may help their ears pop, which can reduce crying.
Disadvantages of Using Pacifiers
If your little one continues to use the pacifier past her second birthday, there may be dental implications. They may develop what is known as pacifier teeth, which are tooth and oral development complications caused by using a pacifier for too long.
To cut back on the risk of future dental problems, make sure you’ve broken your baby off her pacifier habit by the time she is 2 years old (3).
There are other disadvantages too:
- They can be filthy: Babies are constantly dropping pacifiers and often they do it when they are away from home and there is no good way to clean them. I’ve seen parents put the pacifier in their own mouths as a way to clean them. But if you are sick, especially with things like strep or mono, you shouldn’t do that — you risk introducing your baby to bacteria from your mouth (4).
- Weaning your baby off of them can be hard: It can take months just to break the habit. That’s rough on babies and on parents who have come to rely on the pacifier as their top way to soothe their baby.
- Heavy pacifier use might lead to a bigger risk of ear infections: Some studies have linked pacifiers to ear infections — a common problem in babies. But if you want to reduce your baby’s chance of ear infections, you can just limit their pacifier use to times when they are trying to get sleep and then remove them once they are fully asleep (5).
When Should a Pacifier Be Replaced?
Pacifiers can wear out with use and pose as a safety risk, especially if your baby begins chewing on them instead of just sucking on them.
Here are some common signs that you need to throw out your baby’s pacifier and get a new one:
- If the nipple is beginning to tear.
- If any part of the pacifier is broken off or seems to be loose.
- Its nipple is sticky.
- If the pacifier is discolored.
How Many Pacifiers Do I Need?
Pacifiers are incredibly hard to keep track of. They are so little that it’s easy to lose them. You’ll want more than one, especially if your baby becomes dependent on them. If you only have one and you lose it, you’ll have a cranky baby on your hands until you can replace it.
You’ll need to keep one or two pacifiers in your diaper bag and have two at home. They are cheap enough that it won’t hurt your budget if you buy some extras. You would be better off having too many than not enough.
I have always provided plenty in the crib because it makes it easier for your older baby to find one at night and go back to sleep!
Editor's Note:Katelyn Holt RN, BSN, BC
The Bottom Line
Our top pick for the best pacifier is the First Years GumDrop. They can be bought in a 5-pack at a reasonable price, and that will give you spares if you lose some or if some wear out.
The bright colors are easier to spot than the clear ones are when you’re on a pacifier hunt in your house. Since they are made out of silicone, you won’t have to worry about latex allergies.
And with their one-piece design, there aren’t any spare pieces that can break off and become choking hazards.
When looking for the best pacifier for your cute little bundle of joy, don’t be disturbed if they don’t like the first couple of brands you try. Babies can be surprisingly picky about their pacifiers. Keep looking and you’ll be able to find one that they love.