Pacifiers are very popular with both parents and babies alike for many reasons.
But with safety always at the front of your mind, you’re no doubt wondering if pacifiers are safe to use during sleep.
Provided you follow some basic safety rules, pacifiers are safe to use during nap and bed time, and according to studies they can actually increase safety during sleep.
So let’s take a look in more detail.
What Is A Pacifier?
A pacifier is an artificial nipple which helps calm a baby between feedings – in short it’s something you give your baby to comfort them when they are crying and are not hungry.
They are usually made from rubber, silicone or plastic, and are wide enough to not fit in a baby’s mouth (thereby eliminating a choking risk).
Depending on where you live, some of the many other names for a pacifier include dummy, soother, dodie, binky or wookie.
Are Pacifiers Safe For Newborns?
According to the AAP, pacifiers are safe for newborns, as long as you follow some basic safety rules.
These rules include only using a 1-piece version, using the correct one for your child’s age, and only using a pacifier clip under supervision, all of which we covered in a recent article.
When To Introduce A Pacifier
The key factor regarding when to give your newborn a pacifier revolves around breastfeeding.
According to the AAP, you should only introduce one to your baby once they have established a solid breastfeeding routine.
So if mom has a good milk supply and breastfeeding is comfortable and consistent, and your baby is not experiencing issues with latching on, then you should be fine to introduce one to your breastfed baby.
While there is no official timeline for when a binky can be introduced, many pediatricians advise waiting until your baby is around 3-4 weeks, so as to not cause nipple confusion.
What you’re trying to avoid is a scenario where your baby finds it easy to latch on to the pacifier, but more difficult to latch on to the breast.
You also don’t want your baby to use up a lot of energy sucking on a binky, only to then get tired and fall asleep or be disinterested in breastfeeding when it’s time to feed.
So for these reasons it’s very important for breastfed babies to get into a good, consistent feeding routine before a binky or dummy is introduced.
Can I Give My Newborn A Pacifier At Night?
Now we’ve established they are safe for newborns, your next question is probably can a baby sleep with a pacifier all night?
Let’s take a look.
Do I Need To Remove Pacifier When My Baby Is Sleeping?
The good news is pacifiers are perfectly safe to use during naps and at night, so there is no need to remove one when your baby is asleep.
In fact, many experts actually recommend you try giving your baby a pacifier at naptime and bedtime
This is because some studies indicate that using one when sleeping can reduce the risk of SIDS, even if it falls out after your baby falls nods off.
Many parents also report that their infant sleeps better with a pacifier, as it enables them to resist fighting sleep, settle more quickly and stay down for longer, especially during development leaps.
If you do use one at night you should ensure that it’s never tied to your baby’s bassinet or crib, or around their neck or hand, as this may be a serious suffocation hazard.
When To Stop Using A Pacifier
The general advice is that your baby should stop using a pacifier at around 2-3 years of age.
This is because usage beyond this age could lead to dental problems.
Letting your baby use them for too long can also increase their dependency and reliance on a pacifier, and make the habit even harder to break.
Finally, some experts also believe that pacifier use beyond a certain age can interfere with speech development, because with a binky in their mouth, your baby will be less likely to try and make any noises or attempt to speak.