can babies sleep.with pacifier

Unlocking the Benefits: Can Babies Sleep with Pacifiers?

A lot of parents ask me, “Can Babies Sleep with Pacifiers?” and the short answer is Yes! Discover the benefits and considerations of allowing babies to sleep with pacifiers. Learn how pacifiers can soothe and calm infants, aiding in their sleep routine. Understand the importance of practicing safe sleep habits and guidelines when using pacifiers during sleep time.

Table of Contents

1. At what age can babies start using a pacifier for sleep?


Babies have a natural instinct to suck, which can provide them with comfort and help them self-soothe. Pacifiers are often used as a tool to satisfy this sucking reflex in infants. However, it is important to introduce pacifiers at the appropriate age to ensure their safety and promote healthy sleep habits.

Recommended Age

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) suggests that parents wait until breastfeeding is well-established before introducing a pacifier, usually around 3-4 weeks of age. This allows babies to develop proper feeding techniques and establish a solid nursing routine. It is also important to note that premature babies may have different guidelines and should consult with their healthcare provider.


Introducing a pacifier at the appropriate age can have several benefits for both babies and parents. Pacifiers can provide soothing comfort, reduce crying, and promote better sleep patterns in infants. They may also help reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) when used during sleep by keeping the airway open and preventing accidental suffocation.

Overall, it is recommended to introduce pacifiers for sleep around 3-4 weeks of age once breastfeeding is established, but every baby is unique, so it’s essential to follow your child’s cues and consult with your pediatrician for personalized guidance.

2. Is it safe for newborns to sleep with a pacifier?

Pacifier Safety Guidelines

While using a pacifier for sleep can offer benefits, it’s crucial to prioritize safety when introducing it to newborns. Here are some guidelines to ensure the safe use of pacifiers during sleep:

1. Choose an appropriate size: Select a pacifier specifically designed for newborns or infants. The pacifier should be small enough to fit comfortably in your baby’s mouth and have ventilation holes to prevent suffocation.

2. Avoid string or ribbons: Never attach strings, ribbons, or any other loose items to the pacifier as they pose a choking hazard.

3. Clean and inspect regularly: Regularly clean the pacifier with warm water and mild soap. Inspect it for any signs of damage or wear, such as cracks or tears, and replace it if necessary.

4. Use pacifiers with a handle: Opt for pacifiers that have a handle attached to them. This makes it easier to remove from your baby’s mouth if needed.

5. Don’t force it: If your newborn doesn’t show interest in using a pacifier or spits it out during sleep, don’t force them to use it. Every baby has different preferences, so respect their cues and comfort level.

By following these safety guidelines, parents can ensure that using a pacifier during sleep remains safe for newborns while providing potential benefits like soothing comfort and reduced crying.

3. How long should babies be allowed to use a pacifier while sleeping?

Gradual Pacifier Weaning

While pacifiers can provide comfort and help babies self-soothe during sleep, it is essential to establish healthy habits and gradually wean them off the pacifier as they grow older. The AAP recommends the following guidelines:

1. Limit pacifier use after 6 months: Around 6 months of age, you can start reducing the frequency of pacifier use during sleep. Limit its usage to bedtime only rather than throughout the day.

2. Consider stopping between 6-12 months: Between 6-12 months of age is an ideal time to completely stop using the pacifier for sleep. By this stage, most babies have developed alternative self-soothing techniques and are less reliant on pacifiers.

3. Wean slowly: To avoid sudden disruptions, gradually decrease the amount of time your baby uses the pacifier each night. For example, if they typically use it for an hour, reduce it to 45 minutes, then 30 minutes, and so on.

4. Offer comfort alternatives: As you wean your baby off the pacifier during sleep, provide alternative soothing methods such as a favorite stuffed toy or gentle rocking. This helps them transition without feeling deprived of comfort.

Remember that every child is different, and the weaning process may vary. It’s important to be patient and understanding during this transition period while encouraging other self-soothing techniques.

By gradually reducing pacifier use over time, parents can help their babies develop healthy sleep habits and self-soothing skills without relying on a pacifier indefinitely.

4. What are the potential benefits of allowing babies to sleep with a pacifier?

Promotes self-soothing

One potential benefit of allowing babies to sleep with a pacifier is that it can promote self-soothing. Pacifiers provide babies with a non-nutritive sucking action, which can help them calm down and fall asleep on their own. This can be especially helpful for parents who are trying to establish healthy sleep habits for their baby.

Reduces the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)

Another potential benefit is that using a pacifier during sleep has been associated with a reduced risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends offering a pacifier at naptime and bedtime once breastfeeding is well-established, as it may help protect against SIDS. However, it’s important to note that if the pacifier falls out during sleep, there is no need to reinsert it.

Provides comfort and security

Pacifiers can also provide comfort and security for babies during sleep. The act of sucking on a pacifier can mimic the soothing sensation they experienced while breastfeeding or bottle feeding. This can help them feel more relaxed and content, leading to better quality sleep.

5. Are there any potential risks or drawbacks associated with babies sleeping with a pacifier?

Increased risk of dependency

One potential drawback of allowing babies to sleep with a pacifier is an increased risk of dependency. If a baby becomes reliant on the pacifier to fall asleep, they may have difficulty self-soothing without it. This could lead to frequent night awakenings and reliance on the parent to reinsert the pacifier throughout the night.

Potential dental issues

Another risk is that prolonged pacifier use during sleep can potentially affect a baby’s teeth development. The constant sucking motion can cause misalignment of the teeth or an overbite. It’s important for parents to monitor their baby’s pacifier use and consult with a pediatric dentist if they have concerns about their child’s dental health.

Increased risk of ear infections

There is also some evidence to suggest that sleeping with a pacifier may increase the risk of ear infections in babies. This is because the sucking action can create negative pressure in the middle ear, making it more susceptible to infection. However, more research is needed to fully understand this association.

6. Can using a pacifier during sleep affect a baby’s teeth development?

Yes, using a pacifier during sleep can potentially affect a baby’s teeth development. The constant sucking motion can lead to dental issues such as misalignment of the teeth or an overbite. It is recommended that parents limit pacifier use once their child’s permanent teeth start coming in, usually around 6 years old. Additionally, it is important to choose an age-appropriate pacifier size and shape to minimize any potential impact on tooth alignment.

7. Should parents encourage their babies to rely on a pacifier for sleep or try other soothing techniques instead?

While allowing babies to rely on a pacifier for sleep can have its benefits, it is ultimately up to each individual parent to decide what works best for their child and family. Some parents find that using a pacifier helps soothe their baby and establish healthy sleep habits, while others prefer alternative soothing techniques such as gentle rocking or singing lullabies.

If parents do choose to encourage their baby to rely on a pacifier for sleep, it is important to monitor pacifier use and gradually wean the baby off it as they get older. This can help prevent dependency and potential dental issues. It’s also worth exploring other soothing techniques to provide variety and ensure that the baby does not become overly reliant on the pacifier.

8. Are there any strategies to wean babies off pacifiers when it comes to bedtime and sleep?

Yes, there are several strategies that parents can use to wean their babies off pacifiers when it comes to bedtime and sleep:

Cold turkey approach

  • Some parents choose to take a cold turkey approach and remove the pacifier completely from their baby’s sleep routine. This may involve some initial resistance or protest from the baby, but with consistency, they will eventually adjust.

Gradual reduction

  • Another strategy is to gradually reduce the amount of time the baby uses the pacifier during sleep. For example, parents can start by allowing the baby to have the pacifier for only half of their naptime or bedtime, then gradually decrease it further over time until it is no longer needed.

Substitution with comfort objects

  • Sometimes replacing the pacifier with a comfort object, such as a stuffed animal or blanket, can help ease the transition. The child can develop a new attachment to this object for comfort during sleep instead of relying on the pacifier.

9. How can parents ensure that using a pacifier during sleep doesn’t interfere with breastfeeding or bottle feeding routines?

To ensure that using a pacifier during sleep doesn’t interfere with breastfeeding or bottle feeding routines, parents can follow these guidelines:

Wait until breastfeeding is well-established

  • It is recommended to wait until breastfeeding is well-established before introducing a pacifier. This usually takes about 3-4 weeks after birth. This allows the baby to develop a strong latch and feeding routine without any potential confusion between the pacifier and the breast.

Offer pacifier after feeding

  • When using a pacifier during sleep, it’s best to offer it to the baby after they have finished breastfeeding or bottle feeding. This ensures that their nutritional needs are met first and reduces the risk of them filling up on non-nutritive sucking.

Avoid using pacifiers as a substitute for feeding

  • Pacifiers should never be used as a substitute for feeding. If a baby is showing hunger cues or has not had enough milk, it’s important to offer them the breast or bottle instead of relying on the pacifier to soothe them.

10. Are there any specific safety guidelines that parents should follow when it comes to allowing babies to sleep with a pacifier?

Yes, there are some safety guidelines that parents should follow when allowing babies to sleep with a pacifier:

Choose an age-appropriate pacifier

  • Parents should choose a pacifier that is specifically designed for their baby’s age group. Pacifiers come in different sizes and shapes, and using one that is too small or too large can pose a choking hazard.

Avoid attaching the pacifier to strings or cords

  • Pacifiers should never be attached to strings, cords, or any other objects. This can increase the risk of strangulation or choking if the baby becomes entangled.

Regularly inspect pacifiers for signs of wear and tear

  • Parents should regularly inspect pacifiers for any signs of wear and tear, such as cracks or loose parts. If a pacifier is damaged, it should be replaced immediately to ensure the baby’s safety.

Do not force a pacifier on a baby who resists

  • If a baby consistently refuses to take a pacifier or shows signs of discomfort when using one, parents should respect their preferences and not force them to use it. Every baby is different, and what works for one may not work for another.

In conclusion, pacifiers can be a helpful tool for babies to sleep, as they provide comfort and soothing. However, it is important for parents to use them responsibly and monitor their usage to ensure the baby’s safety and overall development.

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