Pacifiers 101


A few days ago I witnessed this scene at a restaurant: a new mom was nursing her infant, as soon as she stopped, baby started screaming bloody murder. The mom then took a binky out of her bag and stuck it into her baby’s mouth. It was as if she pressed the “mute” button. Magic. I was there with my own baby playing with her after she had her dinner (from my breast).

A pacifier is meant to soothe a fussy baby after nothing else, like feeding, changing her diaper, burping, rocking, singing, playing, massaging works, but it can also be mistakenly used as a substitute for satisfying your baby’s needs.


The original “pacifier” was actually a corn cob, which was found to soothe a young baby by the wife of a farmer in 1680’s England. The corn cob worked as a nice replacement for the mother’s sore nipple, and it helped the baby to relax and fall asleep. In fact, in England in the 17th–19th centuries, a coral meant a teething toy made of coral, ivory or bone, often mounted in silver as the handle of a rattle. A museum curator has suggested that these substances were used as “sympathetic magic” and that the animal bone could symbolize animal strength to help the child cope with pain.


  • It can soothe your infant after everything else has failed.
  • It can momentarily distract your baby if you are driving for example and cannot feed her immediately.
  • Some studies have shown that babies who use pacifiers at bedtime and naptime have a reduced risk of SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome).
  • It’s easier to break the pacifier use habit than the thumb sucking habit (you can’t throw your baby’s thumb away!)


  • The use of a pacifier can interfere with nursing, that’s why it’s best to wait until breastfeeding is well established, which is around 30 to 40 days according to my pediatrician.
  • Pacifier use may increase the risk of middle ear infections in babies and young children. In one study, the incidence of ear infections was 33 percent lower in babies who didn’t use pacifiers. Since the risk of these infections is generally lower in young babies, you may find that using a pacifier until your baby’s half-birthday (when her need to suck is greatest) and weaning her from it soon afterward — especially if she seems prone to ear infections — works just fine.
  • Sucking a pacifier well into childhood can interfere with proper dental development.
  • It can be hard to get rid of it once the habit has been established but it is certainly easier than breaking the thumb sucking habit!


Our first attempts with giving our baby the binky were met with her sheer and utter disgust. We insisted because she seems to be into finger sucking and we believe this is much worse than sucking on a pacifier. We in no way try to use it as a substitute for her needs being met. We did have a few occasions on which our baby has been fed, burped, changed, played with, sang to and she was still unhappy – 5 minutes of pacifier used seemed to be just what she needed.


You might also like:

Breastfeeding 101

Guilty! I Fall Asleep While Nursing!

How To Carry A Newborn Baby

Should You Let Your Baby Cry?

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Categories: Baby Manual

Author:Alinka Rutkowska

Alinka is a best-selling and award-winning Children's Author.


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2 Comments on “Pacifiers 101”

  1. September 27, 2012 at 11:20 pm #

    My son has always done a great favor to use a pacifier, because she never wanted to keep it in his mouth.
    At first I was convinced not to want to reveal, during the first two weeks I had kept it well hidden in all the equipment in the hospital gift … But then it seemed that something was missing to reach the quiet and then I tried to give it to him.
    Did not want to so I started to dip it a little ‘honey and so he seemed to like.
    It lasted for a few months and did just the great feast of honey, maybe this is so tough!
    Now put the first two teeth, and then nothing honey and so the pacifier does not want more and now uses it only as a necklace and plays sometimes. 🙂

  2. October 1, 2012 at 5:31 pm #

    Thanks for sharing, Grande Pippo! 🙂

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