Binkies, dummies, soothers, or dodies- whatever you call them, pacifiers have somewhat become an inevitable part of child-rearing. History can tell that the use of pacifiers dates back to thousands of years ago. Even until today, a notable number of parents consider stocking on pacifiers, even before their babies are born. If you’re planning to do the same, you may be wondering – how many pacifiers do I need? That’s why we’re here to help you decide!
While there are no fixed rules on how many pacifiers a baby needs, most parents find it convenient to have at least two to three pacifiers on hand. You’ll most probably need only one pacifier for your baby, but keeping a spare is practical and at the same time, makes you worry less about a lost or dirty binkie.
The truth is, the number of pacifiers you’ll need will greatly depend on your baby’s age, preferences, and whether they will be a “pacifier thrower” later on. Read on for more tips on how many and which types of pacifier you’ll need based on your baby’s age.
But before that, you may want to know if you really need a pacifier for your baby. What are the benefits and associated risks in giving pacifier to babies?
Are pacifiers good/ recommended for babies?
All babies are born with the natural sucking reflex. Sucking is an essential skill to help babies survive. Sucking helps them eat and drink and also has a calming and soothing effect for some babies.
Some babies can satisfy their need to suck from their mother’s breast or from the nipple of the bottles where they are being fed. However, not all babies are the same. Some infants have a more prominent need for non-nutritive sucking and in that case, a pacifier can help.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), babies who want to suck after breastfeeding and bottle-feeding may be provided with a pacifier to satisfy their needs. However, if you are breastfeeding, it would be best to start offering the pacifier at around 3 to 4 weeks after giving birth. This will usually allow enough time for you and your baby to adjust and establish your breastfeeding routine.
What are some benefits of pacifiers for babies?
The benefits of using pacifiers during the baby’s early months are being recognized by experts in childcare. The use of pacifiers has been beneficial in soothing babies undergoing painful procedures (such as in taking blood samples and giving immunizations) and may possibly reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).
What are some risks of pacifier use in babies?
On the other hand, pacifiers are not without their risks. Research has been linking the use of pacifiers to an increased risk of ear infection (otitis media), early weaning and dental issues.
These risks are most prominent in children that use pacifiers excessively.
Now, should you decide to offer your baby a pacifier, here are some tips to help you decide how many pacifiers your baby might need – from infancy to their first birthday.
How many pacifiers to buy before giving birth
There are lots of things to consider before you register for your first baby and one of the minor concerns that you may have is, how many pacifiers do I need for a newborn?
While you may hear varied opinions about how many pacifiers to stock on, it would be best to stay with the bare minimum during this time. It is because there’s no way to know beforehand which type or brand of pacifier will your baby prefer. Some babies will only tolerate certain types, for example.
So before giving birth, buying at least 2 pacifiers of different types or brands will often be the wisest option.
For example, you may buy one that is made of rubber and another one made of silicone. From there, you’ll need to wait until you’ve given birth to tell which material your baby will prefer.
Or, including a pack of ‘soothies’ in the mix.
Just make sure to select the pacifiers that are sized appropriately for babies 0 to 6 months of age. Finding a small nipple pacifier for newborn is ideal as this type will most likely fit a newborn’s tiny mouth.
How many pacifiers to buy during the first 6 months
Pacifiers can be a life-saver for parents during these challenging months. While you are figuring out this whole baby-rearing thing, a pacifier can help keep your baby calm while on bed and give you some time to take that much-desired rest or self-care.
During this period, you’ll already have an idea of the type of pacifier your baby prefers. If you’re lucky and your baby seems to be happy with the first pacifier you offered, then you may ask about returning or exchanging the other unopened pacifiers to the store.
During the first 6 months, you can already buy at least 2 pacifiers of your baby’s preferred brand.
Having an extra pacifier is handy during this time. Even if your baby is less likely to drop or remove it from their mouth, you’ll want to have a spare to offer while the other pacifier is being cleaned.
Take note that cleaning and sterilizing your baby’s pacifier is vital during this time. Babies this age have underdeveloped immune system and the risk of them getting infected from unsanitary pacifiers is high.
If your baby loves rubber pacifiers, manufacturers often recommend having at least 2 pacifiers as well. Unlike silicone, rubber has the tendency to expand and alter its shape with continuous use. In a month or so, the size and shape of your previous pacifier might differ, even if you buy the same brand later.
Having two rubber pacifiers that are used alternately will make sure that your baby can at least have a spare pacifier with a similar size and shape as time goes by.
How many pacifiers to buy from 6 to 12 months
At this age, babies will begin teething, become more mobile, and their eye-hand coordination would be more developed. And you guessed it right- this is also the time when dropping, throwing and messing with their pacifiers will be more pronounced.
For babies 6 to 12 months, having at least 2 to 3 pacifiers will come in handy.
Having spare pacifiers during this time will make sure that you have another one to offer if your baby suddenly throws or drops his or her pacifier on the ground. Keeping at least one extra pacifier in your diaper bag will also be convenient when going out with your baby.
Another thing to expect of babies this age is their desire to gnaw and chew on everything, including their pacifiers. This is part of their natural teething process.
However, this will also mean that their pacifiers may wear out a bit faster than before. Be reminded that the small pieces of silicone or rubber coming off a worn out pacifier are choking hazards. You’ll need to replace the broken or damaged pacifier immediately to keep your baby safe.
While studies found minor differences between the use of conventional and orthodontic pacifiers, you may also want to consider looking for the best orthodontic pacifier by this time. This may ease your worries of your baby developing teeth alignment problems in the near future.
It is also important to take note that doctors often recommend weaning your baby from pacifier use during the second six months of their life. This helps reduce the risk of your baby getting an ear infection.
How many pacifiers do I need from 1 year and beyond
Many babies are still a bit clingy to their binkies during this time, but at this age, you may be thinking of weaning your baby off pacifier use.
For babies 1 year onwards, having at least 1 to 2 pacifiers can usually suffice. Seeing too many extra pacifiers at this point may interrupt with the weaning process.
Take note that both the American Dental Association and the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry discourage the use of pacifiers once your child reaches 4 years of age. Studies show a high incidence of teeth malocclusions among children still using pacifiers at 48 months.
Additional Tips When Buying Pacifiers
Find the safest pacifier available.
A cheap price may be attractive, but the quality of the pacifier that you’ll buy can greatly impact your baby’s health and safety. To find the safest and best infant pacifier, here are some of the selection criteria from the AAP:
- The pacifier is a one-piece model that has a soft nipple.
- Some varieties can be separated into 2 pieces and become a choking hazard.
- The shield is sized at least 1.5 inches across.
- This ensures that the shield can’t fit into the mouth of the baby.
- The shield is made of firm plastic with airholes.
- Select a pacifier made of a BPA-fee material that won’t easily break. The airholes are an additional safety feature.
- The pacifier is dishwasher-safe.
- Pacifiers should always be cleaned and using a dishwasher can be pretty friendly for the busy parents. It can also be cleaned separately and boiled for sterilization purposes.
Note that in the United States, pacifiers are subject to vigorous testing and safety standards before they are allowed to be sold. Therefore, while quality will still differ between brands, there shouldn’t be a need to panic if you opt for a budget-friendly option.
Check for expiration dates.
Some manufacturers include an expiration date on the packaging of their pacifier. It is important to have a keen eye on this date as it will greatly impact the quality of the pacifier that you’ll be giving your baby.
Check for any discoloration or damage on the pacifier.
The discoloration on the pacifier may indicate that the package has been tampered or that the whole package has expired. It is also important to double check the parts of the pacifier. Any parts falling off the pacifier are to be considered choking hazard and should never be offered to babies.
Consider pairing it up with a pacifier clip or holder.
Pacifier clips or holders can keep your baby’s pacifier in place and prevent them from falling on the ground too often.
Take note that the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) recommends that the total length of pacifier clips should not exceed 7 to 8 inches.
Safe pacifier clips of this length ensures that they can’t be tied or worn around the baby’s neck to prevent strangulation.
Now you may also be thinking of “how many pacifier holders do I need?”
Usually, you will need at least two pacifier clips or holders for your baby. This is to make sure that you’ll have an alternative if it’s time to wash the pacifier holder.
So overall, you might need two to three pacifiers for your baby for practical reasons, but at the end, the number of pacifiers to buy will depend on your baby’s needs.
More than the number, it is the quality of the pacifiers that will mean the most to ensure that your little one will always be safe and healthy.