The Best Pacifiers for Breastfed Babies

Driven by a strong instinct to suck for both survival and comfort, most babies will take the opportunity to latch onto almost any object that comes even remotely near their mouths.

Although a breastfed baby spends a great deal of time meeting their sucking needs through nursing, even frequent feedings don’t satisfy some babies. In these cases, the parents will probably need a little outside help in the form of a pacifier.

Baby with a pacifier

Choosing the right artificial nipple for your nursing baby can feel intimidating, so let us help make your search for the best pacifier for breastfed babies a little easier. First, we’ll go over some of the details of general pacifier use, then we’ll take a closer look at some of our favorite pacifier brands.

Our Top Picks at a Glance

Note: There’s a lot more information below but clicking the above links will take you to current prices, further information and customer reviews on Amazon.

What is a Pacifier?

A pacifier is a small device that has a soft, shaped nipple surrounded by a larger shield piece that prevents the pacifier from going too far into your child’s mouth.

The nipple is typically either silicone or latex, and the shape is meant to mimic that of the mother’s breast. The shield usually has at least two ventilation holes, so your child can still breathe even if the shield makes its way over the nose area.

When Can You Begin Using a Pacifier?

The possibility of nipple confusion or nipple preference is of particular concern when you’re giving a pacifier to a breastfed baby.

Wait until you’ve established a good breastfeeding relationship with your baby before you introduce the pacifier. While this time frame will differ for every family, try to wait until your baby is at least three or four weeks of age before you offer any artificial nipple.

Advantages of Using a Pacifier

May Help Reduce SIDS Risk

Doctors have long speculated that sleeping with a pacifier might help reduce a baby’s risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), but they haven’t been able to figure out why. However, the authors of one recent study hypothesize that using a pacifier during sleep may actually affect a baby’s brain in a way that can prevent some instances of SIDS.

May Help an Infant Learn to Self-Soothe

Rather than having to wait for a parent’s arrival to help them calm down or go back to sleep, having a pacifier available may help your baby learn to soothe themselves at a younger age.

Disadvantages of Using a Pacifier

It Could Interfere With Breastfeeding

It’s possible that breastfeeding could become difficult if your baby realizes that the pacifier offers the sucking satisfaction they want with less effort than it takes to nurse from their mother.

Nipple designs that most closely resemble a mother’s body should carry the least risk of your baby developing a preference for the pacifier over nursing. Additionally, try other methods of soothing your child before offering the pacifier, and regularly let your child nurse for comfort.

Potential Dental Issues

The jaw position that a baby must use to hold the pacifier in their mouth could lead to tooth misalignment in certain situations. Most of the risk comes with prolonged pacifier use, so try to use the pacifier as sparingly as possible and wean your child from it as soon as you can.

Increased Risk for Ear infections

Studies indicate that there seems to be a relationship between frequent pacifier use and increased ear infections.

It’s not totally clear if the risk comes from the sucking action itself or the germs that always seem to find their way onto a pacifier despite a parent’s best efforts. Regardless of the root cause, this is another reason why it’s always a good idea to use a pacifier as little as possible and to discontinue using it as soon as you can.

Using a Pacifier Safely

Keep it Clean

The unavoidable fact is that germs are everywhere, but cleaning your child’s pacifier properly and regularly can help keep the germ exposure to a minimum.

Everyday cleaning. After every use, wash your baby’s pacifier with mild dish soap and warm running water, and allow it to air-dry in a clean place. Many pacifiers can also tolerate a trip through the dishwasher in a mesh bag or in the silverware tray, but make sure to check the manufacturer’s cleaning directions first.

Sanitizing. Some instances call for a deeper cleaning, including opening a brand-new pacifier and after your child has been ill.

You can sanitize your pacifier in a boiling water bath with for 10 minutes, and you can steam-sanitize some pacifiers in the microwave.

Replace as Necessary

Every time you go to give your child their pacifier, conduct a visual inspection for signs of damage. Look for cracks in both the nipple and the shield or any pieces that are starting to loosen. At the first signs of damage, throw the pacifier out and get a new one.

Have Several on Hand

It’s certainly an unfortunate experience to reach for the pacifier only to find that it has dropped on the floor, bounced under the couch and landed in the dustiest spot in the whole house. To make matters worse, after contorting yourself to retrieve the pacifier, you still have to go through a thorough disinfecting process while your child screams.

Spare yourself from this ordeal by always keeping a stock of three or four clean pacifiers at the ready.

Don’t Put Any Substances on the Pacifier

Never dip the nipple in honey, syrup or any other substance in an attempt to get your baby to accept the pacifier.

Sugary substances are never a good first food, and honey is particularly dangerous since it contains elements that could cause infant botulism during the first year of life.

Never Tie the Pacifier Around Your Child’s Neck or to Their Clothing

Pacifier clips that are seven inches long or less are safer choices, but make sure you only use a clip during the day while your child is awake.

When Should You Stop Using a Pacifier?

Most experts recommend that you wean your child off the pacifier by the age of two. Up to that age, any dental abnormalities that the pacifier causes should self-correct within a few months of discontinuing the pacifier.

Once your child reaches their second birthday, however, the pacifier presents a lasting risk to your child’s oral development.

What Should You Consider Before Buying a Pacifier?

Nipple Shape

This point is particularly important for breastfed babies since a shape that mimics the mother’s breast can help discourage nipple preference or confusion.

The most common nipple shapes are orthodontic or cylindrical.

  • Orthodontic. An orthodontic nipple typically has a flat upper surface and a deeper nub on the underside. These nipples aim to reduce irritation to the roof of the mouth while also encouraging your baby to “cup” the nipple with their tongue as they would while nursing.
  • Cylindrical. These nipples are round, and they usually have a small bulb at the tip and a wider lip at the base. The wide base helps your baby splay their lips to produce the same type of latch as they would use while nursing.

Each baby is an individual, and your child will probably favor one nipple shape over another. Unfortunately, the only way to know for sure is to try, so you may need to go through some experimentation to find the shape that your baby prefers.

One-Piece vs. Two-Piece Design

As opposed to a two-piece pacifier that has separate nipple and shield pieces, a one-piece pacifier is a single piece of molded silicone.

Two-piece pacifiers have a couple of downsides that are almost unavoidable due to their construction.

  • The nipple has the potential to separate from the shield, and it could pose a choking hazard.
  • Water, soap or drool can seep into the nipple at the seam where the two pieces meet, and it can be difficult or impossible to get this moisture out.

One-piece pacifiers eliminate these risks, and experts like the American Academy of Pediatrics recommend using a one-piece model.

However, many parents swear by classic two-piece pacifiers, and manufacturers typically strive to make their products as safe as possible. If you do choose to go with a two-piece model, be sure to spend some extra time inspecting the pacifier for retained moisture or loose seams.

Recommended Age and Stage

Pacifiers come in different sizes that are appropriate for babies of varying ages and developmental levels.

For instance, a nipple that is too large could cause a young baby to gag or reject the pacifier, and pacifiers designed for the newborn or early infant stage often can’t stand up to the vigorous chewing of a teething baby.

Be sure to pay attention to the manufacturer’s age and development recommendations, and choose the one that fits your baby’s needs.

Our Choices for the Best Pacifier for Breastfed Babies

NUK Newborn 100% Silicone Orthodontic Pacifier

With a smart nipple shape and soft silicone material, this pacifier does a great job of soothing while feeling similar to mom.

The nipple has an elongated orthodontic shape with a thin neck, curved upper portion and scooped lower surface. This design encourages your baby to position and move their tongue in a motion that resembles nursing, and the neck and upper portion help reduce stress on your baby’s lips and upper palate.

Additionally, the nipple has an open design that makes cleaning a snap and prevents moisture retention.

We like that the indented upper portion of the shield fits underneath your baby’s nose, so you don’t have to worry about the pacifier getting in the way of your child’s breathing. The shield has a small nub that functions as a handle and also has a space for a pacifier clip.

While this pacifier is still fairly lightweight, it is a bit larger and heavier than some other models. Older babies shouldn’t run into any problems with the size or weight, but newborns may struggle to maintain a tight seal.

Manufacturer’s Specs

  • Product weight: 1.28 ounces
  • Single-piece design: Yes
  • Recommended age: 0-3 months
  • Cleaning: Hand-wash with warm soapy water or run through a normal dishwasher cycle; sanitize in a boiling water bath
Things We Like
  • Indented shield allows for easy breathing
  • Easy to clean
  • Accessible site for a pacifier clip
Things we don’t like
  • Might be too heavy for some newborns

Summary

This silicone pacifier from NUK has a comfortable shape, open nipple and one-piece construction, but it may be hard for some newborns to use.

Click for More Info / Buy from Amazon

The First Years Gumdrop Newborn Pacifiers

Particularly well-suited for young babies, the Gumdrop has a smart design and lightweight construction that delivers soothing comfort on a smaller scale.

One of the best things that the Gumdrop has to offer is its indented upper shield that extends just past the top of the cylindrical nipple. This design is a good balance between being tall enough to keep the shield firmly outside of your baby’s mouth while still allowing your tiny baby to have plenty of room to breathe around the pacifier.

The Gumdrop’s silicone material is very lightweight, so even young infants should have the strength to hold this pacifier in their mouth. Thanks to a one-piece design with an open nipple, the Gumdrop is a breeze to clean.

One concern to be aware of is that your child can outgrow the Gumdrop a little faster than some other pacifiers. Due to the small size, older babies may be able to push the entire pacifier into their mouth, so keeping a close eye on your child’s growth and coordination is especially important with the Gumdrop.

Manufacturer’s Specs

  • Product weight: 0.8 ounces
  • Single-piece design: Yes
  • Recommended age: 0-3 months
  • Cleaning: Hand-wash in warm soapy water or run through the dishwasher; sanitize in a boiling water bath
Things We Like
  • Lightweight material is easy for a young baby to keep in their mouth
  • Small size and indented shape won’t block baby’s nose
  • Easy to clean
Things we don’t like
  • Need to use caution with older babies

Summary

The Gumdrop pacifier’s smart contoured shield and lightweight construction that makes it a great choice for young babies, but make sure to move up to the larger size as your child grows.

Click for More Info / Buy from Amazon

Philips Avent Soothie Pacifier

Despite its simple appearance, the Soothie is a favorite among babies, parents and hospitals alike.

The Soothie is a single piece of molded silicone with a wide, round shield and a cylindrical nipple, and it is appropriate for both newborns and older babies. Since the entire shape is round, you can pick up the pacifier and put it in your child’s mouth without ever having to wonder if the nipple is upside-down.

While the shield is wide and will likely reach past your child’s nostrils, a small lip at the nipple’s base creates an angle that should keep your baby breathing easily. This nipple base also guides your baby’s lips into a position that closely resembles a nursing latch.

The 100% silicone material can stand up to almost any washing or sanitizing method, so keeping the Soothie clean is beyond easy. Additionally, the one-piece construction and open nipple reduce the number of nooks and crannies where germs can hide.

The only downside to the wide shield is that this pacifier may stick out prominently in photos. Fortunately, this is probably a fairly insignificant issue for most families.

Manufacturer’s Specs

  • Product weight: 1.44 ounces
  • Single-piece design: Yes
  • Recommended age: 0-3 months
  • Cleaning: Hand-wash with warm soapy water or run through the dishwasher; sanitize in a steam sterilizer or a boiling water bath
Things We Like
  • Easy to clean
  • Round shape is always right side up
  • Nipple design creates an experience that is similar to the breast
Things we don’t like
  • The wide shield may not be especially photogenic

Summary

The Soothie does a great job of providing a feel and latch that is similar to mom’s body, and the one-piece silicone construction is easy to use and clean.

Click for More Info / Buy from Amazon

Nuby SoftFlex Orthodontic Pacifiers

The SoftFlex from Nuby has a lightweight construction, handy features and an innovative nipple design that can make it a good choice for breastfeeding babies in particular.

The SoftFlex has an orthodontic nipple with a couple of additional smart features. The flexible silicone can stretch a bit as your baby sucks, functioning in much the same way as a mother’s own body. The base of the nipple also has some textured bumps that can help provide a gentle massaging action if your baby is dealing with some teething pain.

While the SoftFlex is not actually a single piece, the nipple and most of the shield are one piece of molded silicone. However, the shield also has a hollow plastic guard that brings this pacifier into the two-piece category.

We love the light and open shape of the shield, and a curved “handle” in the center is easy to grasp or use for a pacifier clip. The bad news is that the shield’s plastic guard piece can easily trap moisture from cleaning or your baby’s drool.

Manufacturer’s Specs

  • Product weight: 0.64 ounces
  • Single-piece design: No
  • Recommended age: 0-6 months
  • Cleaning: Hand-wash in warm soapy water or place in top dishwasher rack
Things We Like
  • Easy to attach to a pacifier clip
  • Soothing textured surface at the nipple base
  • Nipple shape and flexibility mimics nursing
Things we don’t like
  • Moisture can accumulate in the hollow shield guard

Summary

This unique pacifier has a clever nipple design that both feels like the mother’s breast and provides some soothing relief for teething babies. Unfortunately, the hollow shield guard leaves much to be desired.

Click for More Info / Buy from Amazon

Evenflo Feeding Balance Plus

The Balance pacifier has a cylindrical nipple that is very similar to the Soothie, but Evenflo added a few additional convenient features.

As opposed to bright colors, the Balance comes in a frosted white color that is a bit more subtle and gender-neutral.

The cylindrical nipple encourages your baby to use the same tongue and lip positions that they would while nursing, and it can also help reduce any fatigue your child might experience from using an unnatural lip or tongue position. Our only concern is that the nipple may be a little too long for very young or small babies, especially if your child tends to have a sensitive gag reflex.

We love the lightweight, single-piece silicone construction. The indented shield fits easily under the nose, so it gives your child a little more breathing room.

Cleaning the Balance is a breeze, and the open-ended nipple also eliminates the risk of trapped moisture. You have several cleaning options to choose from, and the Balance also includes a microwave steam-sterilizing bag as part of your purchase.

One of the Balance’s smart features is the flexible ring located front and center on the shield. While still small enough to resist getting caught on toys or other objects, the ring makes it easy for you or your slightly-older baby to pick up the pacifier, and it’s also the perfect size for a pacifier clip.

Manufacturer’s Specs

  • Product weight: 0.8 ounces
  • Single-piece design: Yes
  • Recommended age: 0-6 months
  • Cleaning: Hand-wash in warm soapy water or run through the dishwasher; sanitize in a steam sterilizer or boiling water bath
Things We Like
  • Soft, neutral color
  • Includes microwave sterilizing bag
  • Lightweight construction
  • The ring on the shield is easy to grasp or attach to a pacifier clip
Things we don’t like
  • Might be a little too large for young babies

Summary

The Balance has a great neutral color and a wonderfully handy shield ring. The cylindrical shape can be great for babies who don’t like an orthodontic style, but this pacifier may be just a bit too large if your baby is very young or small.

Click for More Info / Buy from Amazon

Nanobebe Flexy Pacifier

The Flexy’s design prioritizes comfort, and the compact size makes it an excellent choice for small or very young babies.

The cylindrical nipple promotes good oral mechanics, and the shorter nipple length makes the Flexy a little easier for newborns to use.

While the nipple has quality construction and material, the shield is the part of the Flexy that really shines. Thanks to indents on the top and bottom of the shield, the Flexy allows for extra room on both your baby’s nose and chin areas. The shield also has a curved design that fits the contours of your baby’s cheeks to prevent irritation.

One interesting design aspect is that the Flexy’s silicone material is completely clear, so if you’ve ever wondered what your baby’s latch or sucking motions look like from the inside, this is your chance to find out!

While the Flexy does have an additional colored guard piece around the shield, the nipple and shield are a single silicone piece. The only downside is that the handle nub is quite small, and there is no place to attach a pacifier clip.

Manufacturer’s Specs

  • Product weight: 1.6 ounces
  • Single-piece design: No
  • Recommended age: 0-3 months
  • Cleaning: Hand-wash in warm soapy water; sanitize in a boiling water bath
Things We Like
  • Size is great for newborns or small babies
  • Comfortable design fits your child’s facial contours
  • Clear silicone shield
Things we don’t like
  • No place for a pacifier clip

Summary

This little pacifier packs a number of thoughtful design features that make it comfortable for your child to use, and the smaller size is great for young babies.

Click for More Info / Buy from Amazon

MAM Newborn Pacifier

Particularly during the newborn stage, this classic MAM pacifier offers some nice features and sturdy construction.

The nipple has a partial orthodontic shape, with the main difference being that it does not have a flat top. Rather, both sides have a curved surface that can help your baby maintain a better latch on the nipple. Another benefit of this symmetrical shape is that the pacifier is always in the correct position, and you never have to worry that you inserted it upside-down.

The plastic shield has generous ventilation holes, so your child can get good airflow even if the pacifier is a bit off-center. The shield also has a bumpy, textured surface that helps protect your child’s skin from drool or moisture.

MAM included a helpful microwave sterilizing case, so cleaning these pacifiers is quick and easy. Just add a small amount of water to the tray, place the pacifiers inside, snap the cover into place and set the microwave for the recommended time.

One thing we don’t love is the two-piece construction. You will need to be extremely vigilant to ensure all connections are tight with every use, and you’ll also need to keep an eye out for water getting trapped in the nipple after washing.

Manufacturer’s Specs

  • Product weight: 1.6 ounces
  • Single-piece design: No
  • Recommended age: 0-6 months
  • Cleaning: Hand-wash with warm soapy water; sanitize using the included microwave steam-sterilizing case
Things We Like
  • Always right side up
  • Comes with a sterilization case
  • The shield has large ventilation holes and helps prevents moisture-related skin irritation
  • The small size is ideal for newborns
Things we don’t like
  • Two-piece design may allow moisture into the nipple

Summary

Thanks to a smaller size, soft silicone and symmetrical orthodontic nipple, these pacifiers are ideal for very young babies. However, plan to spend extra time inspecting this pacifier for trapped moisture and tight connections.

Click for More Info / Buy from Amazon

WubbaNub Brown Puppy Pacifier

The combination of a pacifier with an attached stuffed animal is totally adorable, and this pacifier’s extra bulk can provide several benefits to children and parents.

Older babies typically love having a small toy to cuddle, and having their lovey attached to their pacifier can be the ultimate in soothing comfort.

The extra weight of the stuffed animal can also help younger babies keep the pacifier firmly in their mouth as they lay back to observe the world or take a nap.

For parents, the extra size of the stuffed animal can help make it easier to spot this pacifier in your child’s crib or under the couch.

The nipple has a cylindrical shape that provides gentle, effective exercise for your baby’s oral and jaw muscles. The wide shield has a round shape and contains two ventilation holes.

You can throw the WubbaNub into a cold gentle machine wash cycle with your child’s other laundry, then lay it flat to air-dry. While we love the two-in-one design, one downfall is that you cannot detach the pacifier to wash or sanitize it separately.

Manufacturer’s Specs

  • Product weight: 6.1 ounces
  • Single-piece design: Yes
  • Recommended age: 0-6 months
  • Cleaning: Machine washable in a cold gentle cycle, lay flat to air-dry
Things We Like
  • A great first stuffed friend for your baby
  • Larger size is harder to lose
  • May be better at staying in your baby’s mouth
Things we don’t like
  • No way to sanitize

Summary

The WubbaNub does double duty as a soft friend as well as a pacifier. Thanks to the larger size, this pacifier should be less likely to go missing while also being easy to find in the crib at night. However, we wish there was a way to sanitize the pacifier portion.

Click for More Info / Buy from Amazon

MAM Comfort Pacifier

The Comfort pacifier offers unique construction along with several features that make it decidedly different from other MAM pacifiers.

If your child shows a preference for traditional MAM orthodontic nipples, you may be in for a bit of an adjustment period with the Comfort model. While the Comfort pacifier has the bulb tip typical of MAM, the bulb has a more rounded shape, and the base is also narrower than other MAM models. There is no top or bottom side since the nipple is symmetrical, so it’s nice that you never have to worry about accidentally giving your child their pacifier upside-down.

This nipple design may be too compact for older or larger babies to comfortably use, especially if they are accustomed to a standard pacifier nipple. However, very young or small babies may have a much easier time managing the Comfort pacifier thanks to its smaller size and pronounced bulb end.

As opposed to the traditional MAM two-piece pacifiers, we love that the Comfort is a one-piece option, and keeping it clean is a breeze with the included microwave steam-sterilizing case.

Another departure from the traditional MAM pacifiers is the Comfort’s handle that easily accepts certain pacifier clips without the need for specialized adaptor pieces.

Manufacturer’s Specs

  • Product weight: 1.44 ounces
  • Single-piece design: Yes
  • Recommended age: 0-4 months
  • Cleaning: Hand-wash in warm soapy water; sanitize using the microwave steam-sterilizing case
Things We Like
  • Unique nipple can be easier for some babies to keep in their mouths
  • Includes a microwave steam-sterilizing case
  • Always right-side up
  • Easy to attach a pacifier clip
Things we don’t like
  • Nipple may be too small for some babies

Summary

With a specially-shaped nipple and smaller overall size, the Comfort pacifier can be a great choice for young or small babies. However, older or larger babies may find the nipple to be too narrow.

Click for More Info / Buy from Amazon

MAM Glow In the Dark Pacifier

If you’ve ever frantically searched your child’s crib in the middle of the night while your baby screams for their dropped pacifier, you might appreciate MAM’s Glow in the Dark model.

After “charging” in bright light during the day, this pacifier will produce a soft glow for up to seven hours. You can easily spot this pacifier in your child’s crib overnight, and your child will also probably learn to find and replace the pacifier by themselves with time. While this feature is incredibly helpful and innovative, we wish that the glow time lasted a little longer.

The design and shape of the plastic shield and silicone nipple are almost identical to that of the MAM Newborn, except that the Glow in the Dark’s nipple has a slightly textured surface at the tip that helps prevent it from slipping out of your child’s mouth.

MAM is great about including a microwave sterilizing case with their pacifiers, so cleaning your Glow in the Dark pacifier is a snap. Unfortunately, one almost-inescapable downside to any two-piece pacifier is the chance that water or drool can get into the nipple, and that’s the case here as well.

Manufacturer’s Specs

  • Product weight: 0.96 ounces
  • Single-piece design: No
  • Recommended age: 0-6 months
  • Cleaning: Hand-wash with warm soapy water; sanitize using the microwave steam-sterilizing case
Things We Like
  • It’s easy to spot this pacifier in the dark
  • Nipple design resists slipping out of your child’s mouth
Things we don’t like
  • The glow fades throughout the night
  • Moisture can get into the nipple

Summary

This clever product makes those 12 AM pacifier-replacement calls a little easier and faster, and your child may even be able to find and replace their own pacifier as they grow older. Additionally, you also get all the beloved features of the classic MAM pacifiers.

Click for More Info / Buy from Amazon

Conclusion

While there were a few models that came in as close runners-up, we have to give the win to the Philips Avent Soothie pacifier.

The Soothie is perfect for newborns and older infants alike, and many hospitals like this pacifier enough to distribute it to new families. The cylindrical nipple shape with a subtle bulb at the tip and a wide base help your child maintain a nursing-like position even when they aren’t latched to the breast, and this can help ward off nipple confusion.

We love that you never have to worry about whether you inserted this round pacifier upside-down, especially in the middle of the night. The one-piece silicone design gives you many easy cleaning options, and the hollow nipple eliminates the possibility of trapped moisture.

Tell us about your experience in giving your breastfed baby a pacifier! Did your baby prefer a cylindrical nipple or an orthodontic one? Did you run into any problems with nipple confusion, and what did you do about it? Share your thoughts and tips in the comments!

Leave a Comment