Many parents use pacifiers to help soothe their babies. The sucking reflex is natural and comforting to a baby. Pacifiers are especially helpful when you aren’t able to hold or comfort your baby, like when you’re in the car. Multiple studies have suggested that using a pacifier can reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
The downside to a pacifier is that as an object that goes in your baby’s mouth, it needs to be cleaned often. The rubbery part of the pacifier seems to be able to attract dirt and dust out of thin air, and it needs to be properly cleaned before you can hand it back to your baby. There are a few options you can choose to clean your baby’s pacifier, including pacifier wipes.
Cleaning a Pacifier
At some point, your baby will discover they can throw things. They will throw whatever they can get their hands on, and often, that’s their pacifier. You’ll find yourself picking the pacifier up off the floor, cleaning it, and handing it back to your baby, only for the cycle to repeat.
After a few rounds of this, you might wonder if it’s worth it to clean the pacifier off again. It can be tempting to just hand it back and tell yourself that germs will build the baby's immune system. But some of these germs can cause illness, so avoid letting your baby put anything dirty in their mouth.
Some of the most common childhood illnesses are all caused by viruses or bacteria getting into the respiratory system. These include:
- Bacterial sinusitis. Bacterial sinusitis is a bacterial infection in the sinuses. It causes symptoms like nasal discharge that lasts more than 10 days.
- Bronchiolitis. Bronchiolitis is a lung infection common in infants and young children, especially in winter months. It’s almost always caused by a virus and can lead to difficulty breathing.
- Bronchitis. Bronchitis is the inflammation of the tubes that carry air to and from your lungs. It’s usually caused by a virus and may cause your infant to cough up thick mucus.
- Common cold. The common cold is a viral infection of the nose and throat. Symptoms can include congestion, cough, low fever, runny nose, and sore throat.
- Cough. A general cough is usually caused by a virus.
- Ear infections. Both bacteria and viruses can lead to ear infections, which often cause symptoms like ear pain and ringing in the ears.
- Sore throat. Sore throats may be caused by both bacteria and viruses. Symptoms include pain and difficulty swallowing.
Dirty pacifiers can also cause a condition called thrush in infants. Thrush is a type of fungal infection that can lead to white patches and painful sores in your baby’s mouth.
To avoid these conditions, make sure to properly clean your baby’s pacifier periodically as well as whenever it lands on an unclean surface.
How to Clean a Baby Pacifier
There are a few ways to clean a pacifier, but first, here are a few things you shouldn’t do. Don’t suck on the pacifier to clean it. This is a good way to spread germs to your baby, especially since so many illnesses are contagious before symptoms start to show. You should also avoid wiping it off on things like your pants, shirt, or a tablecloth, as these could also carry germs.
Boiling. Boiling is a good way to sanitize your baby’s pacifier, but it doesn’t need to be done every time your baby drops it. You should boil the pacifier before your baby uses it for the first time and when the pacifier is really dirty. Things like pacifiers should be sanitized more regularly if your baby was born premature or has a weakened immune system.
Soap and water. Soap and water is usually the easiest, most effective way to clean up a pacifier. Use hot water and dish soap, and avoid anything heavily scented. Pacifiers should be cleaned if your baby drops it, but also after each use to avoid collecting germs.
Pacifier wipes. Pacifier wipes are another good option for cleaning your baby’s pacifier. Pacifier wipes come in a small container that allows you to pull out one at a time. They can be used on pacifiers as well as other baby equipment like bottles and toys.
Are Pacifier Wipes Safe?
Generally speaking, when used as directed, pacifier wipes are perfectly safe. Most of them are made with 100% food-grade ingredients. If your child has allergies, check the ingredients on the package first, as ingredients can vary between companies. Pacifier wipes should be kept out of reach of young children. Avoid getting them in your eyes.
Other types of wipes should not be used to clean pacifiers. Baby wipes, though not very toxic, can contain moisturizers and fragrances that cause the wipes to taste bad. Like baby wipes, disinfectant wipes usually won’t cause too much of a problem, but they can cause the pacifier to taste bad, and ingesting the cleaning solution can cause an upset stomach.
Are Pacifier Wipes Necessary?
Pacifier wipes are not necessary, as soap and water can clean pacifiers just fine. There is a benefit of pacifier wipes, though. They’re portable, meaning you can keep them in your diaper bag or in the car in case you need to clean your baby’s pacifier while you’re out and about.
Tips for Using a Pacifier Safely
Knowing how to clean a pacifier is important for keeping your baby healthy. There are a few other things to know about pacifier safety as well:
- Check for cracks or tears before giving the pacifier to your baby.
- Don’t give your baby their pacifier immediately after giving them medicine, as some medicines can cause the pacifier to break down.
- Replace your baby’s pacifiers every two months.
- Don’t dip the pacifier in sugar or honey, as this is bad for your baby’s teeth and young children who ingest honey may be at risk for botulism.
- Do not tie a pacifier around your baby’s neck.
- Do not use a homemade pacifier.
- Don’t let your baby chew on the pacifier, as this makes it a choking hazard.