There are many different kinds of baby pacifiers. Types vary on materials used, design, and nipple shape. It is best to stock up on a variety of pacifiers since babies have individual preferences. Baby pacifiers consist of two parts: a shield and a nipple. It is important to use pacifiers that have these two parts made from one piece, to reduce the risk of choking.
Silicone has largely replaced latex as the material used for pacifier nipples. This is partly because of the growing numbers of people with latex allergy and partly because latex does not hold up as well as silicone. Baby pacifiers should be replaced as soon as they show signs of wear, which is sooner for those with latex nipples. Silicone pacifiers, however, are harder and may be less comfortable for the baby to suck.
Orthodontic pacifiers are specially shaped, with a flat bottom and a dip in the top. They are supposed to be better for the dental health of children who use them. All types of pacifiers, however, can be damaging to tooth placement if used after the permanent teeth begin to grow. Since orthodontic pacifiers offer no oral benefit over other varieties, the choice to use them comes down to the personal preference of the baby.
Nipple confusion is a common worry for breastfeeding mothers. The thought is that if a baby uses an artificial nipple, such as a pacifier or a bottle, he or she will not be able to readjust to the type of sucking required to nurse. Baby pacifiers that are designed to mimic a mother's nipple may help avoid this problem. Another way to avoid this issue is to wait at least three weeks — until after breastfeeding has been well-established — before introducing artificial nipples.
Some baby pacifiers come with covers to keep the nipple protected while not in use. Others have flexible shields that snap over the nipple when the pacifier is dropped. The drawback of the pacifiers that come with covers is that the covers can be lost. The drawback of the kinds with the flexible shields is the fact that they can snap shut during use, not just when they are dropped.
Pacifier thermometers offer an easy, soothing way to check a baby's temperature. Not all babies will keep them in their mouths long enough to get a reading, however. Not all pacifier thermometers are accurate, so it is best to check them against a traditional thermometer.