You’ve weighed the pros and cons and opted to give baby a pacifier. But now you’re faced with the decision of which one to get—and with the overwhelming selection of baby pacifiers these days, it can be a somewhat daunting task. Stroll down the aisle of your local baby store and you’ll likely find no less than 20 different types of baby binkies, each claiming to be the best pacifiers on the market. How does one even begin to choose—especially when contending with a crying baby who clearly needs to be soothed? We’ve pared down our picks for the best pacifiers so you’ll know just which types to stock up on for every stage of your little one’s life.
Types of Pacifiers
Believe it or not, there are different types of baby pacifiers to suit your child’s age and development. The best pacifiers for newborns are definitely not going to be the same ones that are right for older children with a full set of teeth. The materials vary as well, and while you may have a certain pacifier in mind for your child, in the end it comes down to baby’s own personal preference. Here, the various types of pacifiers to consider:
• Orthodontic baby pacifiers have nipples that are flattened at the bottom and rounded at the top. During sucking, these types of pacifiers flatten in baby’s mouth, which provides the most natural sucking action and reduces pressure on developing teeth.
• Round-tip baby pacifiers are more traditional and most likely the kind you had when you were a child. The round shape is supposed to mimic the form of an actual nipple, which is why these types of pacifiers are often suggested for breastfed babies in order to prevent nipple confusion.
• Silicone baby pacifiers are sturdier, easier to clean and more widely available.
• Latex baby pacifiers tend to be softer and more flexible, but the softness of the material also means there’s a potential for an older child with teeth to inadvertently bite off a piece of the nipple. Also worth noting: If there’s a chance your little one might have a latex allergy, it’s best to opt for silicone.
• One-piece baby pacifiers are made out of a single molded piece of plastic, silicone or latex. The single-piece design minimizes the risk of choking, since the pacifier can’t easily come apart.
• Multiple-piece baby pacifiers are the most common types of pacifiers. These usually consist of a nipple, a guard and a ring, and each of the components is manufactured separately before being combined into the traditional pacifier shape.
Just like kids, baby pacifiers come in different sizes. Purchasing the correct size will make it easier for baby to get—and keep—one in his mouth.
How to choose the best pacifiers for baby
The truth of the matter is baby will ultimately have the final say on which pacifier she prefers. Purchase a few different options, and try them all until you find one that baby likes. Consider factors like your child’s age and whether or not she’s breastfed, and choose a pacifier that’s most appropriate. If you’re nursing, you can also enlist the help of your lactation consultant for suggestions on the best pacifiers. Once you’ve narrowed it down, stock up on baby’s top pick, because pacifiers have a tendency to disappear—and there’s nothing worse than not having one handy when it’s desperately needed!
Of course, sometimes, no matter how many different types and sizes of baby pacifiers you try, baby just isn’t interested. The good news: He’ll eventually find an alternate way to self-soothe, and you’ll be saved from having to deal with pacifier weaning when he’s older.
So what’s an overwhelmed, exhausted mom to do when faced with all the different types of baby pacifiers available? Check out our picks for the best pacifiers—there’s sure to be at least one baby pacifier here that’ll satisfy your little one.
Best pacifier for newborns
There’s a reason hospitals have been sending new moms home with the Philips Avent Soothie Pacifier: It’s specifically designed for newborns up to 3 months and is an easy, inexpensive option. Made from hospital-grade, BPA-free silicone, the Soothie is also dishwasher safe, so keeping it clean is a breeze.
Buy it: Philips Avent Green Soothie, $4 for two, Target.com
Best orthodontic pacifier for newborns
MAM Newborn Start Pacifiers are sized for infants up to 2 months old. The lightweight construction is ideal for newborn babies who haven’t yet mastered how to keep a paci in their mouth, and the large cutouts in the pacifier shield ensure that baby can suck and breathe at the same time. One of our favorite features that puts the MAM on our best pacifiers list? It can be attached to a pacifier clip—unlike a number of other newborn baby pacifiers—so it’s always close by when baby needs it.
Buy it: MAM Newborn Start Orthodontic Pacifier, $6 for two, Amazon.com
Best pacifier for a preemie
The Philips Wee Thumbie is designed specifically for premature babies who can have a hard time handling even a newborn-size pacifier. Ideal for extremely low birth weight infants, the Wee Thumbie’s nipple is modeled after the size and shape of a baby’s thumb (hence the name), in order to mimic the sucking behaviors normally learned in utero. The unique design also allows space for CPAP tubing, mechanical ventilation or tube feeding within an NICU setting.
Buy it: Philips Wee Thumbie Pacifier, $7, PreemieStore.com
Best pacifier for breastfed babies
The First Years GumDrop pacifier has a round nipple and a cutout design that’s shaped to leave baby’s nose free, which helps minimize fussiness. Experts recommend waiting until breastfeeding is firmly established (about three to four weeks) to introduce a pacifier, but once mom and baby have a strong nursing relationship, the rounded shape of the GumDrop nipple will lessen the potential for nipple confusion, making it one of the best pacifiers for breastfed babies.
Buy it: The First Years GumDrop Pacifier, $5 for two, BuyBuyBaby.com
Best orthodontic pacifier
The NUK Orthodontic Pacifier is one of the most popular choices among seasoned parents. The orthodontic nipple is ideal for healthy oral development, and the scoop-shaped nipple cavity allows for lots of tongue movement. The NUK is a silicone pacifier that’s BPA free, and it comes in both single and multi-piece versions—not to mention some really cute designs.
Buy it: NUK Orthodontic Pacifier, $5 for two, NUK-usa.com
Best pacifier for teething baby
The RaZbaby RaZ-Berry Silicone Teether is counted among the best pacifiers for a teething baby. Its oversize nipple and bumpy, raspberry-like texture are ideal for soothing baby’s sore gums, and you can even freeze the RaZ-Berry to provide additional comfort. The pacifier’s unique shape makes it easy for baby to keep it in her mouth while doing other activities, and the handle lets older babies pull it out of their mouths themselves.
Buy it: RaZbaby RaZ-Berry Silicone Teether, $5, Amazon.com
Best pacifier for teething molars
Traditional teething rings only provide relief to localized areas of baby’s gums and often can’t reach far enough back to soothe those oh-so-painful molars. Thank goodness for the Molar Muncher! Its U-shape extends all the way back to those tricky teeth, ensuring relief for baby’s entire mouth. This lightweight binky is easy for babies to manipulate on their own and is constructed of nontoxic food-grade silicone.
Buy it: Molar Muncher, $13, Amazon.com
Best pacifier for introducing solids
When a baby is first introduced to solid food, she can find the tastes and textures alarming (and she’ll make funny faces to let you know). The Ashtonbee Baby Fruit Feeder Pacifier helps baby gradually adjust to the flavors of fruits and vegetables by releasing small amounts whenever she sucks. Engineered to allow only tiny food pieces through, the Baby Fruit Feeder poses no choking hazard for beginning eaters, and can be used with ice or frozen fruit for teething relief. The silicone pacifier is dishwasher safe and stain resistant, though orange veggies such as carrots and sweet potatoes may cause discoloration.
Buy it: Ashtonbee Baby Fruit Feeder Pacifier, $13 for two, Amazon.com
Best pacifier for nighttime
The Tommee Tippee Closer to Nature Night Pacifier glows in the dark so you’ll never again find yourself searching for a lost binky in the middle of the night. The symmetrical orthodontic nipple design is similar to that of a bottle nipple, which may help encourage baby’s acceptance of the pacifier. It’s also available in three different sizes: 0-6 months, 6-18 months and 18-26 months.
Buy it: Tommee Tippee Closer to Nature Night Pacifier, $6 for two, Amazon.com
Best pacifier for a tongue-tied baby
Being tongue-tied can impair baby’s ability to suck effectively, which can make it difficult for him to keep a pacifier in his mouth. The WubbaNub is basically just a standard Philips Avent Soothie pacifier attached to a cute and cuddly stuffed animal. The rounded nipple of the Soothie can be helpful in teaching babies how to suck after their tongue-tie has been repaired, and the adorable animals are sized just right to help little hands grab (and replace) the pacifier.
Buy it: WubbaNub, $14, BuyBuyBaby.com
Best pacifier for moms on the go
It’s pretty much inevitable that baby pacifiers are going to fall on the ground (eww), which is why Doddle & Co.’s Pop silicone pacifier is so brilliant. Designed by two city-dwelling moms who weren’t sure how to sanitize filthy pacifiers on the go, the Pop nipple retracts into its silicone bubble when dropped. The Pop features a rounded nipple and is ideal for children ages 0 to 6 months. It’s also dishwasher safe, because even the cleanest pacifier on the market still needs to be washed sometimes.
Buy it: Doddle & Co. The Pop Silicone Pacifier, $10, Doddleandco.com
Best eco-friendly pacifier
If you’re looking for the ultimate Earth- (and baby-) friendly pacifier, add Ecopiggy’s Ecopacifier to your shopping list. Made of 100 percent pure rubber that’s sustainably grown in Malaysia, the Ecopacifier contains no chemical softeners or colorants, both of which are often found in silicone baby pacifiers. The Ecopacifier has a rounded nipple that’s ideal for breastfed babies, and the best part? It’s biodegradable.
Buy it: Ecopiggy Ecopacifier Natural Rubber Pacifier, $8, FawnandForest.com
Best silicone pacifier
One-piece silicone pacifiers with handles are few and far between, which is why the Chicco NaturalFit pacifier tops our list. The lightweight silicone pacifier boasts an orthodontic nipple and a perfectly sized handle that’s securely molded to the base of the pacifier. It also features plenty of ventilation holes and a cutout for the nose so baby can breathe easy.
Buy it: Chicco NaturalFit Pacifier, $6 for two, BuyBuyBaby.com
Best novelty item pacifier
If you have a baby who takes a pacifier, you’re pretty much guaranteed to end up with a few photos featuring baby’s paci. Make the most of it with a Kiss Lip Pacifier. The oversize bright pink pucker looks hilarious and will turn baby into a living, breathing Instagram filter. The Kiss Lip Pacifier is also one of the best pacifiers to use as a gift topper and to give as a baby shower gift.
Buy it: Kiss Lip Pacifier, $5, Walmart.com
Best pacifier weaning system
Eventually, you’ll be faced with the unpleasant task of having to wean your child off of her pacifier. Poking a hole in the pacifier’s nipple is the favored DIY method, but that can lead to pieces of silicone getting stuck in baby’s gums or, worse, choking. Ditch the Dummy is a pacifier with the hole added at the time of manufacture, so there’s no risk of danger for your pacifier-loving little one. The small hole in the Ditch the Dummy reduces the effectiveness of your child’s sucking motion, essentially rendering the pacifier pointless. Once your child no longer gets any satisfaction from her pacifier, she’ll give it up for good, and you’ll never again have to send out a holiday photo card featuring the once-inseparable twosome.
Buy it: Ditch the Dummy, $9, DitchtheDummy.com
Published November 2017