top of page


The original meaning of pacifier comes from the Latin word “pacificare” meaning to calm or make peace. Sucking in a fetus and newborn infant is a natural reflex.

Nutritive and Non Nutritive Sucking

There are two types of sucking in newborns. Nutritive sucking, is where the baby receives nutrition in the form of milk either from the mothers breast or a bottle. Non nutritive sucking helps babies stay calm; the act of sucking is shown to lower the heart rate, blood pressure and stress levels and thus soothes the baby.

Although a baby can use the mothers breast for non nutritive sucking, the baby may use his or her hands, a pacifier and in some cultures such as the Aka Pygmy the males put their babies to the nipple to soothe them.

The first recognisable pacifier, was first patented in 1901 by a gentleman called Christian Meinecke. It consisted of a nipple made of Indian rubber and a disc-shaped shield and it was called a Baby Comforter. A pacifier is also known as a "dummy" and here in Germany as a "Schnuller".

Advantages of Using a Pacifier

  • calms and soothes the baby

  • helps baby go to sleep

Disadvantages of Using the Pacifier

  • can increase the risk of ear infections

  • prolonged use could lead to dental problems

  • could disrupt breastfeeding

  • dependancy

Sudden Infant Death

Research shows using a pacifier can help in reducing the chance of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). The theory being that the pacifier helps with maintaining an open airway .

When to start Using a Pacifier

If you choose to use a pacifier, it is advisable that you consider offering it once breastfeeding has been established. This is typically when your baby is about one month old; but this can be earlier with some babies where breastfeeding is going well.

Reasons why you may be advised to delay using a pacifier.

  • you notice that the baby is reducing his or her frequency at the breast-newborns should be nursing 8-10 times on average in a 24hour period.

  • baby is not latching well on to the breast

  • baby is having problems with weight gain

  • you have milk supply problems, and putting baby to the breast more often can help to increase the milk supply.

Safety Tips To Consider When Using a Pacifier

When using a pacifier there are some safety issues to consider. It is important to keep them clean and replace them regularly. You should only to use approved pacifiers and a pacifier should not be substituted with the nipple from a bottle. Use caution with straps to attach pacifiers to clothing or bedding as this could be a strangling hazard.

In Conclusion

For many parents using a pacifier can actively help to soothe a fussy baby, and is often used in conjunction with other soothing techniques such as swaddling, rocking and white noise.

Using a pacifier is a personal decision, and the ultimate decision is always made by the baby. Some babies love their pacifier, and some just refuse point blank and then there is little you can do about it.


bottom of page