What is the difference between pacifier, soother, dummy, and teether?

November 15, 2020

What is the difference between pacifier, soother, dummy, and teether?
What is the difference between pacifier, soother, dummy, and teether?

Parents will do almost anything to help soothe and settle their infants in the early stages of life and development. Some of the most common tools for helping soothe an infant include pacifiers, soothers, dummys, and teethers. All of these options can work to keep babies content and distracted, but it is important to understand the differences if parents want to find the right solution for their child. 

What is a baby pacifier?

Pacifiers have several nicknames including dummies, binkies, and soothers. Most pacifiers come with three essential pieces: the nipple, the shield, and the ring. They come in different shapes and materials, but all serve the same purpose. They have a nipple for sucking. Pacifiers can be such an efficient tool when it comes to calming and soothing an irritated baby.


Sucking is a natural reflex for newborn babies and is necessary for feeding from the breast or bottle. In fact, the habit begins before birth and this is why non-nutritive sucking or sucking without feeding is also a natural tendency for newborns and infants. This is why a pacifier is so effective. It can help them calm down. It can also help them fall asleep sooner and stay asleep longer. And research shows that the use of a pacifier can reduce the risk of sleep-related death and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).


When can a baby use a pacifier?

There is no exact right time for how soon a parent can give a baby a pacifier. Some infants do just fine getting a pacifier practically right out of the womb. Sometimes it is better to wait a few weeks. Most pediatricians suggest parents wait for up to four weeks, especially if the baby is going to be breastfed. This gives the mother and infant time to develop a solid nursing routine and reduce the risk of nipple confusion, which makes it more difficult for a baby to latch. A nurse or doctor may also recommend delaying the use of a pacifier for preterm babies because they have smaller and weaker sucking muscles. That said, all babies are different, and the timing will come down to what feels right for the parents and the infant.


As for when it comes time to stop using a pacifier, a lot of pediatricians advise parents wean the baby around the age of one. But the biggest concern is the baby using the pacifier as a chew toy instead of a soother. If the baby is content to continue sucking, they can continue using the pacifier longer. That said, pacifier use beyond the age of four can increase the chance of dental problems in later life.


Tips for choosing pacifiers

Safety should always be the top concern when choosing devices for an infant. It is important to make sure all soothers are non-toxic and will not choke or suffocate the infant. Which is why choosing the right soother starts with finding the right size. Most brands offer pacifiers in certain age ranges including 0-6 months, 6-18 months, and 18 months and older. The smaller pacifiers work better for newborns and the larger sizes for older babies. It is also important to find a soother in the right shape, something that is comfortable for the infant to suckle. The last thing to consider is material. Most pacifiers are made of BPA-free plastic, but some come in food-safe silicone, latex, or natural rubber. It is important not to commit to a certain type of pacifier before the baby is born. Parents might have to try several different options before the baby settles on a style they like best.


What is a baby teether?

A baby teether, teething toy, or chew toy is a device parents can give to infants while teeth grow in. This developmental stage can be difficult. Teething babies often suffer from inflammation of the gums, disrupted sleep, fever, drooling, and loss of appetite. It is trying on the infants as well as the caregivers. And this is why teethers can be so useful. They can be made from different materials include BPA-free plastic, natural rubber, or wood. They also come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and colors.


When can a baby use a teether?

Most infants begin teething between the ages of four and six months. But no two babies are alike. Some can start the process much earlier, while others will not get their first tooth until much later. Most pediatricians and practitioners recommend starting an infant on a teether at the first sign of irritated gums and taking teethers away before the age of two.


Tips for choosing baby teethers

Safety is the biggest thing to consider when choosing a baby teether. After all, it is another device intended to be in the infant’s mouth. Standard toys should never be used as teething toys. Next, do not consider any teething products that contain BPA, phthalates, PVC, or toxic paints. Aside from that, teethers come in a variety of shapes, sizes, textures, and materials. Parents should look for products that are easy for their little ones to grab and hold. And again, it is practical to try a couple of different options to find out what the infant likes best. 


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