If you’re planning for the arrival of your newborn you’ve probably got a long list of things to buy, which may include everything from larger ticket items like a bassinet or crib, to everyday essentials such as bibs, socks and pacifiers.
If pacifiers are on your list, you’re probably wondering how many you actually need to buy.
While there is no set amount, you’re probably going to want 2 or 3 pacifiers as a minimum, which will enable you to always have a spare in case one gets lost or dirty.
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How Many Pacifiers Do I Need?
While there is no set number and it comes down to preference, many parents will tell you that as a minimum, it’s recommended you have 2-3 pacifiers (or dummies as they are called in some countries).
This will allow you to alternate use throughout the day, and enable you to always have a back-up should you lose your baby’s pacifier or if it becomes dirty.
Pacifier Pros & Cons
Using a pacifier or dummy can be a controversial subject that divides opinions between parents.
But it’s worth noting that according to the AAP, using a pacifier will not harm your baby.
So let’s take a look at both the benefits and disadvantages of using a pacifier.
Benefits Of Pacifiers
Some of the pros of using a pacifier or dummy include:
- Helps soothe your baby. For some babies a sucking motions is very soothing, and this sensation can be satisfied with a pacifier. Many babies like being settled on the breast even if they’re not hungry, but if your baby has a pacifier they may be able to therefore “self-settle”.
- Reduces risk of SIDS. Some studies show that they can reduce the risk of SIDS.
- Temporary Pain Relief. Pacifiers offer a distraction and pain relief from minor procedures such as blood tests and vaccinations.
- You can control the withdrawal. Unlike sucking a thumb or fingers, the use of a pacifier is something you can directly control, so when it’s time to wean off a pacifier and break the habit you will have control.
Disadvantages Of Pacifiers
Parents should be aware that they do also have their cons, which include:
- Interfere with breastfeeding. If your baby uses a pacifiers it can be more difficult for them to learn how to breastfeed. For this reason you should not introduce one until your baby has established a good breastfeeding routine.
- Dental problems. If your baby uses a paci for the first year or two, it should not lead to dental problems. However, prolonged use beyond the age of two can cause misalignment of teeth.
- Increased risk of ear infections. The use of a pacifier may increase the risk of middle ear infections.
- May disrupt your sleep. When it falls out of your baby’s mouth, mom or dad may need to wake up in the night and physically put the pacifier back in your little one’s mouth. You’ll probably need to do this for the first 6-7 months, because before this age your baby won’t be able to replace it themselves.
- Overattachment. Babies can become very attached to using a pacifier, which can make the weaning / withdrawal challenging.
How Long Can You Use One Pacifier?
For reasons to do with both safety and hygiene, it is recommended you replace your baby’s pacifier every 4-8 weeks.
If you notice any changes in the size or shape, or of course any visible damage, then you should also replace the pacifier, even if it’s before the 4-8 week window.
When To Switch To 6 Month Pacifier
Most manufacturers of pacifiers make them in several different sizes, which cover the following ages: 0-6 months, 6-18 months, 18-36 months.
Parents should always ensure their baby uses the right sized one, because using the wrong size may not be effective (for example your baby may reject / spit it out), and because a pacifier that is too small may be a choking hazard.
Once your baby reaches 6 months of age, you should therefore replace all their pacifiers with ones designed for 6-18 month old babies.
Can A Baby Sleep With A Pacifier All Night?
If you’re wondering whether your baby can use a pacifier when asleep at night the good news is yes, it is acceptable for a baby to sleep with a pacifier, provided you follow the tips below.
Pacifier Safety Tips
Here are some guidelines to ensure your baby’s pacifier use is as safe as possible:
- Use the correct sized pacifier or dummy for your baby.
- Keep them clean to protect your baby’s developing immune system. Pacifiers should be sterilized if your baby is under 6 months, after which you can wash in soap and warm water.
- Only use a 1-piece pacifier.
- Ensure the shield between the nipple and the ring is at least 1.5 inches to reduce the risk of choking.
- Ensure the guard has breathing holes.
- Do not attach string, because this can be a strangling hazard. This includes pacifier clips (see below).
- If you do use a clip, make sure it is not long enough to go round your baby’s neck.
- Do not put anything on the tip as coating (e.g. sugar or honey).
- Never use the top or nipple from a bottle as a replacement for a pacifier.
- Regularly inspect and replace your baby’s pacifier every 4-8 weeks.
How Many Pacifier Clips or Leashes Do I Need?
A pacifier clip or leash attaches to a pacifier and helps ensure it doesn’t fall to the ground, get lost or become dirty when your baby spits their paci out.
They can be very useful when used under supervision, but you should be aware that pacifier clips should not be used when your baby is sleeping.
As many parents find clips essential for use under supervision, a common question is how many do you need?
For most people 2-3 clips is plenty, particularly as your baby may have decide they have a favorite, in which case you’ll probably use the same one all the time and the second or third will just be for back-up purposes only.