We answer your burning questions about pacifier usage

Many parents look to pacifiers to soothe their babies as they are portable and easy to use. Sucking on a pacifier can calm your child’s raging emotions as opposed to just silencing their cries.

According to Head and Senior Lactation Consultant at Thomson Parentcraft Centre, Chen Li Qin, the use of pacifiers is generally fine, but limiting their use is best. She shares more about what parents should take note of and answers FAQs about pacifier usage.

Pros and cons of using a pacifier


- Pacifiers can help greatly for preterm infants from non-nutritive sucking.
- Might soothe a fussy baby.
- Offers temporary distraction.
- May help your baby fall asleep.
- May ease discomfort during flights.
- May reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SID). The AAP recommends giving a pacifier at naptime and bedtime.
- Pacifiers are disposable.


- Baby might become dependent on the pacifier.
- Pacifier use might increase the risk of middle ear infections. 
- Prolonged pacifier use might lead to dental problems.
- Pacifier use might disrupt breastfeeding.

When do pacifiers become an issue and when should babies stop using them? 

Sucking on a pacifier is not a problem for children unless they are still sucking on them when their permanent teeth start erupting. 

The American Academy of Paediatric Dentistry (AAPD) agrees non-nutritive sucking is a normal for babies and young children, and recommend weaning from the pacifier by age 3. 

Are there any good replacements for pacifiers?

Soothers: Made of softer, flexible material and come with holes on the side to prevent the child from sucking on them. They are also designed to fit the contours of your baby’s mouth and therefore prevents him from developing pacifier or thumb-sucking habits. Soothers are used by mothers who breastfeed their children. 

Binkies: They are shaped like pacifiers but made of thinner materials. The binkies come with a free “nipple” that can be attached to the baby’s upper lip and soothes him or her at the same time. Binkies are often used by parents who do not breastfeed their babies because they are too small to fit in their babies’ mouths.

Teething rings: Made of silicon and shaped like a pacifier. They also provide the same comfort to babies.

Finger pops: Made to look like colourful plastic pacifiers and are shaped like fingers. 

Bottle teethers: Come in various shapers and colours. They are made of silicon and are often used to soothe sore gums during teething. 

Finger puppets: Made to look like pacifiers but made of a soft cloth and do not have airbags. They are also designed to fit the shape of baby’s fingers. They are perfect for toddlers who want something that has no risk of injury. 

Crib toys: Shaped like pacifiers, made of plastic and come in various shapes and colours, making them a popular choice for babies. 

Chewables: Made of biodegradable material and usually come in different shapes. 

Teething keys: Come in a variety of different shapes and colours, and even play music! They also help to ease discomfort for teething issues.

Non-toxic crayons: Made of silicon and claim to be non-toxic. They also come with a clip for attaching your baby’s pacifier while they’re on the go. The crayons can be used as a regular pacifier when baby is teething.

How can I get my baby to sleep without a pacifier? 

- Limit daytime pacifier use
- Offer an alternative, such as soothers
- Take it slow
- Offer praise 
- Establish healthy sleep habits before 4 months 

How long should a pacifier be used? 

A good age to get rid of the pacifier is anywhere between 24 months to 36 months. 

Any important tips about using pacifiers? 

- Don’t use a pacifier as a first line of defence.
- Choose a one-piece and dishwasher-safe variety.
- Let your baby set the pace.
- Keep it clean.
- Don’t sugarcoat it.
- Keep it safe (Never attach it on baby’s neck).

For expert advice on caring for your new baby, contact the team at Thomson Parentcraft Centre.

Photo: iStock

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