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Teethers & Pacifiers - Buying Guides

Pacifiers, Binky, Soother, Dummy… parent’s around the world call them different names, but one thing is for sure regardless of where you are from, if your baby is difficult to settle, these little things can be a lifesaver.

As with everything else, your baby is likely to have a preference for one type over another, and with all babies being different, a little trial and error will come in handy. Luckily, compared to most other baby products, pacifiers are relatively low cost. It would be wise not to stock up on them before you understand your baby’s preference, but once you do, buy a couple of extras to have on hand when needed. 

Pacifier buying basics 

Nipple Shapes: Orthodontic vs. Round Nipple Pacifiers

Pacifier nipples come in two basic shape variations: Round nipples and orthodontic nipples.Rounded nipple pacifiers are round all over while Orthodontic nipple pacifiers are round at the top and flat at the bottom. Orthodontic pacifiers are generally believed to interfere less with baby's oral development than traditional round pacifiers, hence their name. 

Pacifier Sizes

Pacifiers are generally sold in different sizes according to the baby's age. Usually 0-3m or 0-6m, 6-18m, 18-36m etc. Each brand will base their sizing on various factors, so be sure to buy the correct size for your baby instead of guessing based on how the nipple looks. Remember getting the wrong size can be uncomfortable for your baby and could even pose a safety hazard.  

Pacifier Materials

Pacifier nipples come in three materials:

Silicone: These nipples are strong, durable, easy to clean and don’t retain odors. But they aren’t as soft and flexible as latex.

Latex: Nipples made from latex are softer, but they wear out quickly and tend to retain odors. If your child has a latex allergy, you’ll need to avoid these pacifiers.

Natural rubber: One-piece natural rubber pacifiers are a great choice for parents who want to avoid harmful toxins. While all pacifiers have been BPA-free since 1999, natural rubber pacifiers are also free from chemicals such as PVC, phthalates, parabens, chemical softeners and artificial colorants. They tend to be more rigid than silicone or latex, but some babies prefer the solid feel. They’re also more expensive than traditional pacifiers.

Pacifiers Safety Guidelines

  • Pacifiers don’t last forever. Nipples wear down with age and use. It is generally recommended that they be replaced immediately if the pacifier shows signs of wear. The rate of wear will be determined by how often and vigorously your child sucks on the pacifier. Pacifiers aren't expensive, so it's best to replace your baby's as soon as it starts to show signs of wear.

  • Don’t tie your baby’s pacifier to his clothes using string or ribbon – it’s a strangulation hazard. Instead, use a proper pacifier tether. This is a special leash that clips easily to clothing and is short enough not to be a safety hazard.

  • Pacifiers are not Intended for older kids. Using a pacifier past 2 years of age can affect your child’s oral development. Inner-ear infections have been associated with pacifier use, especially between the ages of 6 months to 2 years, so if your baby is prone to ear infections you may want to wean him off a pacifier around his 6-month birthday or avoid them altogether.

  • Always clean it before use and never by sticking it in your mouth. Before using a pacifier wash it with mild soap and water. To sterilise, you can also drop a pacifier in boiling water for 5 minutes. When out and about, always carry an extra pacifier and you can also use pacifier wipes to clean them if they fall. 

Three-Piece or Basic Pacifier; The three-piece pacifier is the most common model.  The nipple is made of silicone or latex and comes with a variety of colours and patterns on the shield. They can be orthodontic or have traditional round nipples. 

One-Piece Pacifier; Made from a single piece of silicone, rubber, plastic or latex, this type of pacifier cannot break apart, which minimises choking risk. You’ll find a variety of shapes and colours available. Plastic can crack easier than latex and silicone so check one-piece soothers frequently for damage.

Don’t make your own: Some parents use bottle nipples as pacifiers, but they can pose a choking hazard.

Wash before use: This is especially important for silicone and latex nipples that may contain harmful chemicals.

Buying Baby’s First Teether

There are a lot of “firsts” that call for celebration, including your baby’s first steps or first words. Sharing these moments can strengthen your bond as a family by creating unforgettable memories. When it comes to your child’s first set of teeth, however, the fanfare consists of more pain, crying, and screaming than you might like. It’s the first milestone in your child’s oral health, and it’s the toughest one to work through.

Some signs that your little one is teething include them refusing food, experiencing difficulty going to sleep, general irritability, swollen gums, and excessive drooling. In this chaos, your maternal instinct is to make your child as comfortable as possible — but it can be difficult to find the right teether to help them through this time. However, with the right approach, you can ensure the proper development of their first set of teeth. Here are some tips to guide you through this stage of your baby’s development. 

 

Finding the Right Teether

An important first step to helping your child through this period is getting them a teether. Teethers are designed to allow babies to bite down on a safe surface, providing them comfort and distraction from the pain and irritation caused by teething. As any parent knows, however, there are a ton of options. They come in many shapes and sizes, from teething necklaces to rubber toys. Which is right for your child?

Generally speaking, you should avoid buying any teethers with small pieces that may be abrasive to your baby’s sensitive gums. Many types include elements that are designed to further distract your child, such as noise-making crinkle material or rattling parts. It’s important that the teether you choose is durable, so these components can’t become a choking hazard.

Teethers come in a variety of materials, each with their own pros and cons:

  • Fabric: Teethers made of fabric are great for sensitive gums, so fabric teethers are a safe choice — but they obviously can get drenched with drool, which can become unhygienic, leading to early tooth decay. Given that most fabric teethers can only be washed by hand, they can be a bigger hassle than you might want to deal with.

  • Rubber/Silicone: Rubber and silicone toys and rings are a common option in most retailers. Depending on the exact firmness of the material, they may be too firm for especially inflamed gums. Cooling these in the fridge can help provide extra relief. These are soft, pliable, and easy to clean.

  • Wood: Wooden teethers can stimulate your child with pleasant textures and odors. The material is also naturally antibacterial; bacteria cannot multiply on wooden surfaces, making such teethers naturally more hygienic. 

  • Water- and Gel-Filled Teethers: While these share many similarities with rubber and plastic teethers, these are designed to “give” more when bitten, which can be soothing to inflamed gums. They can also be cooled. Durability can be an issue, depending on the brand and model.

  • Plastic: It is generally advisable to avoid hard plastic with BPAs. Not only is the hard surface problematic for teething mouths, studies have linked BPA to many health risks. If you do decide to buy a plastic teether, check the packaging for the presence of any potentially hazardous material.

Safety Tips

Some common practices can ensure proper tooth development and prevent any complications from prolonging your child’s discomfort. Keep the following tips in mind regarding your baby’s teether:

  • Don’t let your child use a teether without supervision.
  • If a teether is damaged, throw it out. Small or loose pieces can present choking hazards, and chipped surfaces can damage your baby’s gums.
  • Frequently clean teethers with warm water and soap. Some can be placed in the dishwasher. If traveling, bring baby-friendly cleaning wipes and use them as needed.
  • Keep the teether dry when not in use to prevent the growth of mold. Not only can mold lurk behind your walls, it can grow inside rubber teethers, and some molds can pose a serious health risk.

You should now be able to make an informed decision about your baby’s first teether.

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