Have you ever stood in the baby supplies aisle of a store and felt totally overwhelmed by the tremendous variety of pacifiers? With so many styles, shapes, sizes, and colors, it can be tough to figure out which pacifier will work for your baby.
After asking other parents for recommendations and trying out all the top pacifier options, we’ve rounded up our favorites. Along with these reviews, we offer plenty of information in this helpful guide so you can find the best pacifier to calm your baby, without having to purchase one of every style.
- Compatible with many attachments
- Made of silicone
- Orthodontic pacifier
- Dishwasher safe
- Small and lightweight
- Includes sterilizing case
- Soft nipple with anti-slip surface
- One-piece design
- Hospital-grade silicone
- Wide base prevents 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
- Medical-grade material
- Glow in the dark
- Easy to clean and dishwasher safe
- Safe and secure snap-lock closure
- Ergonomic design
- Fits tiny preemie mouths
- BPA free
- Helps babies learn sucking motion
Does My Baby Need a Pacifier?
In a nutshell, pacifiers are nipples that babies can suck on, but they differ from baby bottles because they aren’t used for feeding — they are solely used for comfort.
If you have a baby who won’t stop crying, a pacifier can be one of the best tricks for providing comfort. 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 milk, they might find a pacifier soothing. The same is true if you see them sucking their fingers or toys.
If your baby is generally content between feeds and doesn’t seem to have any extra need to suckle, there’s no need for a pacifier.
How to Choose the Best Pacifier
Pacifiers vary in size, nipple shape, and style. These are the factors we considered for evaluating the best pacifiers.
- Size: Pacifiers are generally sized by age, with recommendations posted on the package. Usually, the breakdown is for 0–6 months, 6–18 months, and 18+ months. This is important because a smaller pacifier can be a choking hazard for a bigger baby because they can fit the whole pacifier in their mouth.
- Nipple material: Pacifier nipples are usually made of silicone or latex. Latex is generally softer, but some babies may have latex allergies, so you should watch for reactions upon early usages. Silicone is the more popular choice for pacifiers, and it can also be cleaned 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 2021
Here are the top pacifier brands currently on the market.
1. The First Years GumDrop Newborn Pacifier
The First Years GumDrop Pacifier comes in a package of two and is designed to fit well under your baby’s nose. This allows them to breathe easier when using their pacifier.
The one-piece design is made of silicone, making it easy to clean. It also lasts longer than other pacifiers as you don’t have to worry about any parts breaking off.
These pacifiers are free of BPA, phthalates, and latex. The basic design is made for babies up to three months, but larger sizes are now available for older babies.
- Compatible with many attachments.
- Gives your baby room to breathe.
- Made with latex-free silicone.
- Hair tends to stick to these pacifiers.
- Tiny fingers can get stuck in the holes.
2. NUK Newborn Orthodontic Pacifiers
If your baby has colic, a pacifier can be very helpful for soothing them. For that reason, you might want to hedge your bets by getting an orthodontic pacifier. The shape of the pacifier was designed to fit naturally into a baby’s palate. This helps with proper dental development.
The NUK orthodontic pacifier uses silicone materials and comes in a package of two. The shield is heart-shaped, dipping under your baby’s nose, allowing for more breathing room.
You’ll be pleased to know they’re made in the U.S. and are BPA free.
- Nipple shape helps exercise baby’s tongue and jaw.
- Extra-soothing nipple design.
- They make a slight squeaking noise for some babies when they suck on them.
- Not all babies appreciate the heavier feel.
3. MAM Newborn Start Pacifier
These MAM newborn pacifiers are designed for babies up to two months old and come in a set of two. They have a curved shield to allow for better airflow. This pacifier also has big air holes in the shield to help ensure your baby can easily suck and breathe at the same time.
With a convenient button on its end, both you and your baby can easily grab onto the pacifier. The button also allows you to attach a strap that clips to your baby’s clothing to keep it from getting lost.
The silicone nipple is soft with an anti-slip surface that helps the pacifier stay in your baby’s mouth instead of falling out.
- Small and lightweight for newborn babies.
- Comes with a sterilizing case.
- Soft silicone has a breast-like feel.
- Moisture can get trapped inside the nipple.
- Some moms had problems with the sterilizing container melting in the microwave.
4. Philips Avent Soothie Pacifier
You’ll get a four-pack of baby pacifiers when you buy the Philips Avent Soothie pack. This may seem like a lot, but you’ll learn quickly that it isn’t. At the rate that pacifiers seem to go missing — always when you need them most — you can never have too many.
These pacifiers are the same type used by many hospital nurseries, so they’re great for babies who have may have had a NICU stay and have already adjusted to this style.
The one-piece construction makes these last longer than pacifiers with multiple pieces. However, the hospital-grade silicone makes these firmer than some other pacifiers — they’re even firmer than the newborn-sized Soothies — and some babies find them a little tougher to keep in their mouths.
- One-piece design.
- Made with hospital-grade silicone.
- Can be used with pacifier clips.
- Round design has no “right” or “wrong” side and can be popped in at any angle.
- Babies’ fingers can get stuck in the holes.
- Some babies prefer a softer nipple.
5. WubbaNub Brown Puppy Pacifier
This fun pacifier idea comes with an attached stuffed animal so babies can hold it in place more easily. The weight of the stuffed animal also helps babies who struggle to keep their suction going.
With a huge collection of stuffed animals to choose from, this adorable pacifier is sure to be a hit with your baby and anyone else who sees it. At the very least, the stuffed animal will be more comfortable for you to hold in place, and it prevents the pacifier from dropping into small spaces and getting lost.
Made with medical-grade silicone, this pacifier is similar to the style used in the hospital — minus the stuffed animal — and is free of latex, BPA, PVC, and phthalates.
- Easy for your baby to grip.
- Free of latex, BPA, PVC, and phthalates.
- Because of the attached animal, it’s much more difficult to lose.
- More expensive than traditional pacifiers.
- Harder to use with squirmy babies.
6. Natursutten Natural Rubber Pacifier
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 most baby pacifiers, which often have an attached handle or shield, this single-piece design is made of all-natural rubber. A single rod connects directly to the shield which blends perfectly into the rounded nipple. With no joints or crevices, there’s nowhere for dirt and bacteria to get trapped and accumulate.
Your child will also have an easier time grasping this pacifier to 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 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 emits a strong, rubbery scent when it’s warm.
7. MAM Clear Orthodontic Pacifier
The orthodontic nipple on this pacifier will protect your baby’s developing teeth and jaw. And the soft silicone feels more like the real thing.
The shield has a textured surface and several holes to help the air circulate and reach your baby’s nose. It can also stop your baby from getting a sweaty face or rash when using the pacifier in the summer.
MAM pacifiers have a knob on the back which makes them easier to grab. Babies from newborn to six months can use these pacifiers, which come in a set of two.
- Can be used with a pacifier clip.
- Comes with a sterilizing case.
- Won’t leave marks on your baby’s face.
- Hard to clean as moisture gets trapped in the nipple.
- The shield is a little big for smaller newborns.
8. Smilo Orthodontic Pacifier
These Smilo pacifiers are designed for newborn babies but still come with a variety of cute colors, prints, and sizes. The bigger-sized nipple expands during soothing thus supports the palete to prevent your babies from crossbites. The medical-grade 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 worry about germs and bacteria.
With no noticeable smell or taste, they work especially well for babies who are breastfeeding.
- More affordable than many other brands.
- Ring-style handle is easy for babies to grab.
- Shield includes air vents to prevent a too-tight seal.
- It may be heavy for newborns.
9. NatureBond Baby Fruit Feeder and Teether
Unlike a traditional baby pacifier, the NatureBond Baby Fruit Feeder and Teether is meant for more than sucking. Teething babies and toddlers love the wide nipple design, which is made for chewing, rather than suckling. It both soothes and delights fussy babies and toddlers.
The pieces open so the nipple can be filled with bits of baby food or frozen breast milk to soothe sore gums and stimulate baby’s appetite for solid food in a safe manner.
Designed for easy washing, this pacifier is easy to dismantle and is dishwasher safe, ensuring every piece gets fully cleaned.
- Fully dismantles for easy cleaning.
- Free of BPA, phthalate, latex, and lead.
- Won’t gag infants and smaller babies.
- Better for feeding and teething than soothing babies to sleep.
10. Philips Respironics Wee Thumbie Pacifier
These pacifiers were created to comfort and soothe the smallest of babies — those under 30 weeks of gestational age. The pacifier was designed to be the size and shape of a preemie’s thumb for a natural sucking experience.
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, you won’t require many replacements. But if you have a younger preemie, you could be replacing this three times before they outgrow it.
- It fits tiny preemie mouths.
- Free of harmful chemicals.
- Helps preemies learn important sucking motions that are usually learned before birth.
- Requires sterilization before first use.
- Needs to be replaced often.
- More costly than standard pacifiers.
When Should I Introduce a Pacifier?
It’s a good idea to wait until your baby has mastered breastfeeding before introducing a pacifier. Because breastfeeding and pacifiers use different sucking motions, implementing one too soon may cause nipple confusion and prevent a proper breastfeeding latch (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 to prevent confusion. If you’re finding it too difficult to hold off, search for a pacifier that’s designed to have a similar feel to breastfeeding.
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 (2).
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 may be decreased by up to 90 percent (3).
These are some other advantages of pacifiers:
- They can soothe and distract babies during vaccinations: Vaccinations are hard babies. They’re painful and the effects can be felt sometimes for a few days. Pacifiers can help with that.
- They may help your baby fall asleep: If you have a baby who fights sleep, pacifiers can help them drift off while cutting back on their crying. They help babies learn to 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 on airplanes. 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 your baby has broken their pacifier habit by the time they are two years old.
There are other disadvantages too:
- They accumulate germs and bacteria: 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 this is a bad idea as you risk introducing additional bacteria from your mouth (4).
- Weaning your baby from pacifiers can be hard: It can take months to break the habit. The process is often rough on babies and on parents who have come to rely on the pacifier 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. To reduce your baby’s chance of ear infections, you can limit their pacifier use to times when they are trying to get sleep and remove it once they are fully asleep (5).
When Should a Pacifier Be Replaced?
Pacifiers can wear out with use and potentially become 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 replace your baby’s pacifier:
- The nipple is beginning to tear.
- Any part of the pacifier is cracked, broken off, or seems to be loose.
- The nipple is sticky.
- The pacifier is discolored.
How Many Pacifiers Do I Need?
Pacifiers are easy to lose, so it’s best to have more than one on hand.
3 Or 4
It’s a good idea to keep one or two pacifiers in your diaper bag and have at least two more at home. They are cheap enough that it won’t hurt your budget if you buy extras. It’s better to have too many pacifiers than not enough.
I like to keep a few pacifiers in the crib because it makes it easier for my baby to find one at night and go back to sleep without fully waking and getting upset.
Editor's Note:Katelyn Holt RN, BSN, BC