Introducing Pacifiers: Things to Know

Introducing Pacifiers: Things to Know

A pacifier or dummy is used to soothe a baby using the innate skill they are born with: sucking. Some babies even suck their thumbs or fingers before they're born. Navigating the pro and anti pacifier community can get overwhelming, but ultimately it is your choice. So let's quickly go through some of the most commonly seen information about pacifiers before getting into when and how to introduce them.

A few of the common criticisms of pacifiers are that it causes dental problems, and interfere with speech development, and sleep habits. However, recent research provides evidence of their possible protection against sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). Certain benefits of pacifier use are seen during surgeries, and self-soothing in term and preterm infants. And though the topic of pacifiers can often get controversial, the theory behind is pretty straightforward.

If you take anything away from this blog post let it be that it is not a must to offer your little one a pacifier, but it is a choice you make based on your circumstances. 

Here are some things to know if you are considering pacifier use… 

When to Introduce a Pacifier

A pacifier is normally offered when a baby’s need to suck surpasses that provided by nursing and bottle feeding; in those cases, a pacifier is used to satisfy their need. Though there is no set start date for introducing pacifiers, there are guidelines:

If you are breastfeeding your baby, you may want to wait to use a pacifier until breastfeeding is well-established. This can take about 3-4 weeks according to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). At that time, offering a pacifier for naps and at bedtime can help reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). When you feel ready to offer them the pacifier, just simply do it by putting it in their mouth. There is a chance they may not like it and prefer to suck on their fingers instead, and that is completely normal.

When NOT to initiate a Pacifier

Breastfeeding Difficulty

Though sucking is a born skill, the technique used with pacifiers and when nursing is different. This is a concern especially for babies new to breastfeeding because it can lead to breast refusal, and eventually weight loss and a low milk supply.

Hungry Baby

A pacifier is not and should not be used to delay or replace a meal, this can lead to ineffective breastfeeding and can result in weight loss. Therefore, only offer it when you are sure the baby is full.

Otitis Media (Ear Infections)

Pacifiers should be restricted in infants and children with chronic otitis media, or ear infections that occur often. Evidence suggests that the risk of ear infections is up to three times higher in those who use a pacifier, so limiting it in those who already have ear infections is advised.

10 Tips for Introducing Pacifiers

  1. Purchase pacifiers that are molded to one solid piece and cannot come part.
  2. Do not use the top nipple from a baby bottle as a pacifier, the nipple may pop out if sucked too hard.
  3. The shield between the nipple and the ring should be at least 1.5 inches across with ventilation holes.
  4. Never tie a pacifier to your child’s crib or around your child’s neck or hand.
  5. Pacifiers deteriorate over time, inspect them periodically and change when needed
  6. Pacifier recommendations change with age! So follow the recommended age range for them.
  7. Make sure the pacifier is dishwasher safe, and always squeeze out the nipple first after washing.
  8. Some pacifiers have expiration dates! Keep an eye, and don’t keep pacifiers past that time.
  9. If your baby is not latching to the pacifier, don't force it on them. Try your chance at a different shape. 
  10.  When you find a pacifier your baby loves, buy extras! They tend to always get lost or fall in odd places.


  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2021, July 22). What to expect while breastfeeding. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved February 3, 2022, from 
  2. Hanafin, S., & Griffiths, P. (2002). Does pacifier use cause ear infections in young children? British Journal of Community Nursing, 206–211. 
  3. Pacifier safety. (n.d.). Retrieved February 3, 2022, from 
  4. Pacifiers and thumb sucking. (n.d.). Retrieved February 3, 2022, from 
  5. Pacifiers: Satisfying your baby's needs. (n.d.). Retrieved February 3, 2022, from 
  6. Recommendations for the use of Pacifiers. (2003). Paediatrics & Child Health, 8(8), 515–519.