Types Of Pacifiers

sleeping baby with pacifier

Before I had children I told myself I’d never let them use a baby pacifier. Both my brother and I never used one when we were babies, so I thought I would have the same approach with my kids. I couldn’t have been more wrong, as my wife and I caved in after only a couple of weeks! After days of constant crying we decided to let both our newborn babies both use a pacifier. The sound of silence when we popped it into their mouths was a godsend.

So if you’d like your baby to use a pacifier, what type should you use? After all there are some benefits to using one, particularly in how they reduce the risk of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome). There are open shield pacifiers, orthodontic pacifiers, teething pacifiers, collapsible pacifiers, feeding pacifiers and lovey pacifiers. In this article, let’s look at all these different types in more detail.

Open Shield Pacifiers

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The open shield pacifier is a common and popular pacifier type. The face shield is mostly open and wide, and this prevents the child from swallowing the pacifier. The open shield also allows the child’s skin underneath to breathe more than it would with another type of pacifier. Open shield pacifiers are among the best to use if your child has sensitive skin. However, these pacifiers aren’t always available in models designed for teething babies.

Orthodontic Pacifiers

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Orthodontic pacifiers are designed to help prevent orthodontic issues as a baby’s teeth develop. The orthodontic pacifier has a special nipple that supports the shape of a child’s developing palate and jaw. The pacifier mimics the shape of a woman’s nipple so as the baby sucks, the pressure on the gums is reduced. This promotes a more natural sucking motion for the baby. Some orthodontic pacifiers are made softer, which helps to prevent irritation on a child’s skin. While orthodontic pacifiers help support the healthy growth of teeth and the palate, you should wean your child off of all pacifiers when the child is around 2-3 years of age.

Teething Pacifiers

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To ease the pain of teething, babies suck and bite pacifiers. However, most pacifiers aren’t designed for biting. If a child bites off a piece of a pacifier, it can cause a choking hazard. A good teething pacifier will have a harder nipple, which makes it more difficult for a child to bite off. Teething pacifiers are solid and designed to withstand having a baby chew on them. Teethers are best for babies as their teeth develop. However, they aren’t the best pacifiers to soothe a baby because they aren’t soft like a nipple.

Collapsible Pacifiers

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The nipple on a collapsible pacifier folds or collapses into itself. This protects the nipple better and keeps the nipple clean. You still need to clean the pacifier; however, the nipple won’t be as dirty as the nipple on other types of pacifiers. Collapsible pacifiers may not be the best for newborn babies. As the collapsible part of the pacifier moves, it may frustrate the newborn.

Feeding Pacifier

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Feeding pacifiers allow caregivers to insert soft foods, such as fruit, into the pacifier. This type of pacifier helps a child learn to manage eating solid foods. The handle on a feeding pacifier is typically designed so that the caregiver or even the baby can hold the pacifier. These are good pacifiers for helping a child try to manage solid foods. However, they are not suited for babies under six months of age who aren’t ready for solids yet.

Lovey Pacifiers

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Lovey Pacifiers are a popular type of pacifier that has a soothing toy attached to the end of the pacifier. The toys are typically plush toys in the form of unicorns, bears, puppies or other animals that babies often adore or become attached to. Lovey pacifiers are among the best at soothing babies. They are also easier for a baby to pick up and insert into the mouth. However, weaning a child off of a Lovey Pacifier is sometimes difficult. If they become attached to their plush toy, they will whine and complain when it’s taken away.

Should I Get a One-Piece or Multi-Piece Pacifier?

Traditional pacifiers have three pieces: a nipple, a shield and a ring. The nipple is, of course, the part the baby sucks on. The shield is the piece that prevents the baby from sucking the whole nipple down their throat. The ring is the part you use to handle or carry the pacifier. You also hold the ring to insert the pacifier into the baby’s mouth.

However, one-piece pacifiers don’t have those three various parts. Instead, they are made using a single piece of latex, silicone, or rubber. One benefit to using a one-piece is that they don’t have cracks in them where bacteria can grow. They’re also unlikely to be a choking hazard because they won’t break apart.

Some people like multi-piece pacifiers because they come in different varieties and shapes. Some even have ‘glow in the dark’ shields, which makes it easier to locate them when your baby is bawling in the middle of the night.

What Is the Best Pacifier Material?

The main choices of material for pacifiers are silicone, latex and natural rubber. Let’s look at them in more detail.


Silicone pacifiers are easier to clean than rubber pacifiers. You can boil or steam clean a silicone pacifier without worrying that the material will break down. Silicone pacifiers are also affordable, which is good if you’re on a budget. On the negative side, silicone is thicker and more rigid than rubber. This means some babies take longer to get used to the thicker, harder nipple.


Latex nipples are softer and more flexible in comparison to silicone. The texture of a latex nipple is generally more skin-like in texture than a silicone nipple. However, some babies are allergic or sensitive to latex. Latex nipples are also not as durable as silicone.

Natural Rubber

Rubber is more flexible than silicone, which means it will feel more like a breast to a baby. Another benefit to rubber pacifiers is that they’re biodegradable. On the downside, rubber pacifiers expand as the baby continuously sucks on them. This means the nipple enlarges and the pacifiers breaks down in about 6-8 weeks. You need to replace them once they get sticky.

How Do I Know What Pacifier Is Right for My Baby?

There are several factors to consider when purchasing a pacifier. Try an open shield pacifier to protect the sensitive skin of a newborn. Once your child has become accustomed to breastfeeding, you can try an orthodontic pacifier, which are best for helping a child’s teeth and palate develop well.

For a baby over six months old, you can try a collapsible pacifier, which has moving parts that babies can handle better as they transition out of the newborn phase. A feeding pacifier is not recommended for newborns who cannot eat solid foods. Once your child is old enough to eat fruits and veggies, try a feeding pacifier. If your child is teething, it’s probably best to choose a teething pacifier since they’re designed to withstand chewing.

When Should You Move Up a Pacifier Size?

Pacifiers basically come in two main sizes according to your baby’s age. For newborn babies, you should use pacifiers sized for babies up to six months old. This is important because if you buy a pacifier that is too small, then it could pose a choking hazard. When your baby hits the six month mark, replace all your newborn pacifiers with ones sized for babies that are six months and older.

In addition to changing pacifier sizes, you should also replace pacifiers when they wear out. Discoloration, tears and holes are all signs that you need to replace a pacifier. Check for weak spots. A weak spot in a nipple can cause a nipple to break off in your baby’s mouth. If the nipple is sticky, the pacifier should be replaced.

How Many Pacifiers Do You Need?

There’s no hard and fast rule concerning how many pacifiers you need. However, if your little one likes to suck a pacifier frequently, then you should definitely have more than one. Try different styles and figure out which ones your baby prefers. Keep at least two of each style handy. That way, if one wears out then you have another one ready to go.

Some parents like to keep multiple pacifiers for multiple occasions and situations. For instance, you might want to keep two pacifiers in your diaper bag for when you go out. Keep another two in convenient places around the home. For instance, if your baby likes to suck a pacifier at night, keep one in the crib and keep at least one more on a nearby table.

types of pacifiers