The 11 Best Pacifiers to Buy in 2021

Neve Spicer
Written by Neve Spicer Updated on September 24th, 2021

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As parents, it’s our natural instinct to calm and soothe our babies. The naturally comforting suckling reflex that pacifiers encourage makes them a favorite with most little ones.

There’s a lot of hearsay about pacifiers being dangerous — and not totally without merit. Wrong picks aren’t great for babies, which makes it that much more important to know how to choose a safe pacifier.

We took a look at the 11 best pacifiers of 2021 to give you a rundown of what’s out there and what informed shoppers should know.

Pacifier FAQs

What are pacifiers? Why do babies love them?

Pacifiers are pieces of mouth-safe material designed to mimic the shape of a mother’s nipple for suckling.

The reason babies love pacifiers is right there in the name — they’re a soothing tool, as the suckling reflex is naturally calming to babies, whether they’re feeding or not. Wondering what types of pacifiers exist?

  • Round nipple: Often described as “most like mother” in their branding, these pacifiers have a rounded nipple tip that forms a bulb. It’s true that this most naturally mimics the sensation they’re used to, but it can also lead to orthodontic issues, especially with prolonged use.
  • Flat or Orthodontic nipple: Many newer pacifiers have adapted the flat nipple design, which is more conducive to developing good orthodontic health for babies, as it accommodates the natural shape of their growing jaw and palate.

When is the correct time to introduce a pacifier to my baby?

Many parents wonder if it can be too soon to start using a pacifier for their infant. There are some on the market designed with newborns in mind, but, if you’re planning to breastfeed, it’s best to wait at least a month before introducing a pacifier to your baby.

Once they’ve established a healthy and productive nursing routine, they’ll be less likely to experience confusion when soothing with their pacifier. One pro-tip for introducing a pacifier?

Choose a pacifier that’s age-appropriate: Pacifiers are usually designed by age, and younger babies manage better with those designed for their size and capability.

What features should savvy shoppers look for in a great pacifier?

When we’re shopping for baby toys and gear, safety always comes first. The best pacifiers are safe, healthy for baby and easy for parents to clean. Wondering what makes great pacifiers great?

  • Size: They should be just the right size for baby to suckle on, while also large and wide enough to make choking impossible
  • Material: They should be made of food-safe rubber or non-toxic silicone and easy to sterilize without harming your baby
  • Design: Pacifiers with flat nipples encourage good orthodontic health for baby, while those with open handles prevent choking, allow airflow, and prevent irritation to baby’s delicate and sensitive facial skin

What ‘s the best way to sterilize and store my baby’s pacifiers?

Since pacifiers go into your baby’s mouth, it’s easy to imagine just how quickly they can become dirty. To keep our kids healthy, regularly cleaning pacifiers is essential. Fortunately, it’s not difficult to thoroughly sterilize your baby’s soothers.

Always check the manufacturer’s instructions to make sure that pacifiers are dishwasher/sterilizer safe, as those that aren’t could melt if cleaned in a washer that’s too hot. Wondering how to sterilize and store baby’s pacifiers the old-fashioned way?

  • Give the pacifiers a gentle scrub down with mild soap, rinse with warm water, and inspect them. Pull out any that are damaged or broken, as these are no longer safe for your baby.
  • Heat a pot of water, and boil the pacifiers for about five minutes. Drain the pot and transfer the pacifiers to a clean, dry towel.
  • As they cool, shake and pat them dry. Once completely dry, transfer them to an air-tight container for storage.

Pros and Cons

What are the advantages of using pacifiers for baby?

There’s no substitute for love and attention, but, as all parents know, sometimes babies fuss for no reason.

It’s actually important that they learn to comfort themselves, which is where pacifiers come in. Wondering why they’re advantageous for both parents and babies?

  • Babies are able to self-soothe naturally via their suckling reflex
  • A pacifier helps to quiet fussy, but otherwise fine, babies on the go, allowing parents to negotiate meals and shopping trips peacefully
  • Because babies have a natural urge to put things into their mouths, pacifiers are designed with safe, easy to clean materials in shapes and sizes that prevent choking

What are the disadvantages of using pacifiers for baby?

While there are plenty of advantages to using a pacifier safely and correctly, there are some circumstances in which pacifiers can be problematic. Here’s what they are and how to deal with them.

  • Using pacifiers for too long: Continuous use of pacifiers, even picks designed for orthodontic health, is not great for baby’s oral development. By nine months, it’s time to start slowly reducing the time they spend with their pacifier and introduce alternative methods of self-soothing.
  • Over-attachment: If you’re quick to hand your baby a pacifier when they’re fussy, chances are that they’ll soon be demanding it frequently, while also fussing even more for dramatic effect! Offering your growing baby alternative ways to self-soothe without their paci is the best way to discourage them from over-attachment, which will make eventual weaning easier.

Our picks of the best pacifiers

Editors choice

Our opinion

Age range: 0 – 3 months
Special features: Perfect for newborns
Nipple shape: Round
Materials: Hospital grade silicone

The fact that the Soothie Pacifier by Phillips Avent (check price on Amazon) is a top choice of hospitals speaks volumes about the quality and safety of this newborn pacifier. It’s a doctor-recommended pick for soothing babies from birth to three months, allowing for infant gums and teeth to develop normally at that stage.

It’s easy to clean because it’s top-rack dishwasher safe, and can also be used in a sterilizer or even boiled. It’s made of hospital-grade silicone and contains no latex or BPA. The strong, smooth nipple is ideal for a baby’s oral development in their early infancy. Nor will it become sticky and unusable, as with softer pacifiers.

What we love
  • It’s the newborn pacifier that many hospitals choose, because it’s safe, durable, and developmentally healthy for little ones
  • It’s easy to clean, because it’s dishwasher safe and can be sanitized or boiled
Watch for
  • Silicone tends to be a magnet for dust, so keep an eye out and clean regularly

Upgrade choice

Our opinion

Age range: 0 – 6 months
Special features: Nipple retracts, handle becomes teething ring
Nipple shape: Round
Materials: Medical grade silicone

If you didn’t know newborn pacifiers were a thing until you had a newborn, you’re not alone – neither did we! It was a serious learning moment – newborn pacifiers, like the Cutie PAT by Ryan and Rose (check price on Amazon), are designed for younger babies to use before they begin teething.

They’re designed to minimize impact to baby’s orthodontic development, but, when baby gets older, replace them with flat nipple pacifiers.

The Cutie PAT is unique in that when babies age out of using it as a pacifier, the nipple retracts inward, and the easy-to-grip textured ring handle can be used as a teething toy. It’s also easy to clean, thanks to its 100% medical grade silicone construction which is dishwasher safe and can be sterilized or boiled.

What we love
  • It’s a safe, effective infant pacifier that turns into a convenient teething toy as they grow
  • Thanks to a durable silicone build, it’s dishwasher safe and can be boiled or sterilized
Watch for
  • The nipple is very soft, so as soon as they start cutting teeth, it’s time to switch to teething-toy-only mode

Best budget buy

Our opinion

Colors: Clear
Theme: None
Age Range: 0 – 6 months
Special Features: Orthodontic
Round or Flat Nipple: Flat
Materials: Silicone

Keeping pacifiers clean is tied with knowing where pacifiers are for hardest event in the parent olympiad. The sterilizing case that comes with the Chicco PhysioForma (check price on Amazonpacifier can turn parents into gold medalists at both, as it makes the pacifier easier to keep track of and protects it from dirt, dust and environmental hazards. It’s made of BPA-free soft silicone, which means it’s safe to put in the dishwasher, the sterilizer or boiling water. It’s also friendly for baby’s orthodontic development thanks to its flat-nipple design.

What we love
  • It comes with a sterilizing case that keeps the pacifier clean and free from dirt and debris
  • It’s designed to support orthodontic development and healthy breathing by maintaining a forward position for baby’s tongue
Watch for
  • This pick is made of clear silicone, which may discolor and become yellowed after repeated runs through the dishwasher or sterilizer

Best orthodontic pacifier

Our opinion

Age range: 3 – 36 months
Special features: Orthodontic
Nipple shape: Flat
Materials: Rubber

Orthodontic pacifiers with flat nipples are great for growing babies because they don’t inhibit the baby’s natural oral development.

Bright and cheerful, the HEVEA Star & Moon Orthodontic Pacifier (check price on Amazon) comes in a bright tangerine shade that makes it easy to spot, even at the bottom of a diaper bag.

It has unique ventilation holes for airflow, and the natural rubber construction is gentle against baby’s delicate facial skin.

While this pick can and should be cleaned with mild soap and water, parents should know it’s NOT dishwasher safe, nor should it be sterilized or boiled, as this could warp or discolor the pacifier.

What we love
  • Promotes healthy orthodontic development in growing babies
  • It’s bright orange color makes it easy to find, and cute star and moon shapes double as ventilation holes
Watch for
  • Can’t be washed in the dishwasher, sterilized or boiled, as it may warp (making it unsafe for your baby) or become discolored.

Best pacifier for three-month-olds

Our opinion

Age range: 0 – 3 months
Special features: Orthodontic
Nipple shape: Flat
Materials: Silicone

NUK pacifiers are among the most popular picks out there – they’re affordable, durable, and created by a trusted brand.

This cute and convenient two-pack, in vivid pink and green, Newborn Orthodontic Pacifier (check price on Amazon) checks all the basic boxes, including flat nipples for orthodontic health, ventilation holes to promote healthy breathing, and safe silicone construction that’s non-toxic for baby and can be sterilized or put in the dishwasher.

These soothers are great for babies around three months as they’re conducive to healthy, oral development in infancy if a little too soft for babies with teeth.

What we love
  • It’s a brightly colored two-pack, so there's a backup and they’re easy to spot
  • They’re made by a trusted brand from100% silicone, so they’re easy to clean and sterilize
Watch for
  • Too soft for older babies once they’ve started serious teething

Best pacifier for newborn babies

Our opinion

Age range: 0 – 2 months
Special features: Perfect for newborns
Nipple shape: Flat
Materials: Silicone

Cute designs might not make pacifiers more effective, but they certainly make them more fun.

These animal-themed blue and white pacifiers are fun and sweet, and their unique construction features large air holes, which provide ventilation to your baby’s sensitive facial skin while preventing irritation.

MAM’s Newborn Pacifier (check price on Amazon) is extra easy to clean, thanks to the unique case enclosed, which can be used to sterilize the pacifiers in the microwave in only three minutes.

The case is also great for carrying the adorable two-pack, keeping them clean and safe whilst in transit.

What we love
  • They come with a case that’s not only convenient for carrying, but can be used to sterilize the pacifiers in only three minutes in the microwave
  • The unique construction of the pacifiers includes large air holes to prevent rashes
Watch for
  • Water can become trapped inside the pacifier’s nipple when washing

Best pacifier for six-month-olds

Our opinion

Colors: White, green, red, blue
Theme: Multipack – kites, space/rockets, hot air balloons
Age range: 6 – 18 months
Special features: Orthodontic
Nipple shape: Flat
Materials: Non-toxic plastic, silicone

Multi-packs are a lifesaver when it comes to small, frequently used baby gear, like pacifiers, that need to be replaced frequently and are easily misplaced.

NUK makes picks that parents can trust, and this Orthodontic Pacifier Value Pack (check price on Amazon) encourages healthy breathing and an easy transition between breastfeeding and pacifier use.

Themes like space travel, kites, and hot air balloons make these travel companions even cuter, and the easily cleaned silicone nipples mean they’re dishwasher safe.

What we love
  • Designed with orthodontic health in mind, encourage easy breathing, and promote a smooth transition between breastfeeding and pacifier use
  • Dishwasher safe (so cleaning is easy,) and they feature cute travel themes
Watch for
  • One of the enclosed pacifiers features a glow-in-the-dark feature, which parents might overlook because the glow isn’t very strong

Best pacifier for preemies

Our opinion

Colors: White, clear
Theme: None
Age range: Premature babies born at under 30 weeks gestation
Special features: Modeled after the shape and size of a preemie baby’s thumb
Nipple shape: Flat
Materials: Silicone, non-toxic plastic

The days and weeks after a preemie is born can be very stressful for parents. The last thing that should be of concern during those moments is preventable safety hazards, which is why hospitals recommend the Wee Thumbie by Philips (check price on eBay) for babies under 30 weeks gestation.

This pacifier encourages babies to continue learning and executing essential suckling behavior, which normally happens during their intrauterine development. It’s just the right size for tiny premature babies, and the flat nipple is even modeled after the size and shape of their little thumbs.

What we love
  • Specifically designed for premature babies, teaching them to suckle, which is crucial to their development and is usually learned in utero
  • Is dishwasher safe and can be sterilized or boiled, so cleaning is easy
Watch for
  • They’re quite small – though this sounds like an obvious statement, not all early babies are tiny enough to need a pacifier this small and some may do better with a standard newborn pacifier

Best classic pacifier

Our opinion

Colors: Black, white
Theme: None
Age Range: 0 – 6 months
Special features: Made of natural rubber
Nipple shape: Round
Materials: Rubber, non-toxic plastic

Of all the picks on our list, the BIBS Natural Rubber Baby Pacifier (check price on Target) is BPA-free and the closest to those picks most parents remember from childhood.

Babies find the old-school nipple shape soothing, as it more realistically mimics the feeling of breastfeeding than orthodontic pacifiers.

As we’ve already mentioned, the downside is that prolonged use of this nipple style is less than ideal for baby’s oral development.

Focussing on the positives, though: this cute, classic, pacifier is durable and made with 100% natural, non-toxic materials. Parents should note that this pick shouldn’t be sterilized, boiled, or put in the dishwasher, but can be cleaned with mild soap and warm water, keeping things hygienic.

What we love
  • The round nipple shape more accurately mimics the sensation of breastfeeding, which could make some babies reluctant to reject it
  • It holds up to prolonged use and is made with 100% natural rubber and non-toxic plastic
Watch for
  • The round nipple shape isn’t ideal for baby’s orthodontic development, nor can this pick be used in the dishwasher or be sterilized or boiled

Best pacifier for breastfed babies

Our opinion

Colors: Pink, white, blue, grey
Theme: Multipack animals, otter and bunny
Age range: 6 – 36 months
Special features: Open handles to minimize skin irritation on sensitive baby faces
Nipple shape: Flat
Materials: Silicone

If you or your child have sensitive skin, you’re already well aware that some reactions seem like they’ve materialized out of thin air.

While some triggers are hard to identify, it’s easy to see how some pacifiers that cover your baby’s delicate facial skin, combined with the excess saliva produced as they begin teething, can create major irritation.

MAM know their stuff when it comes to pacifiers, and their Air Design Sensitive Skin Pacifier (check price on Walmart) has extra large ventilation holes that encourage healthy breathing and prevent skin irritation.

Not only can these pacifiers be boiled or put in the dishwasher, they can also be sterilized in minutes in a microwave while remaining in their convenient storage case.

What we love
  • The unique Air Design features minimal bordering allowing for maximum ventilation during use, encouraging good breathing and preventing rashes
  • They’re dishwasher safe, can be boiled, and come with a convenient carrying case that’s also a microwave sterilization pouch
Watch for
  • Water can become trapped inside the pacifier’s nipple when washing

Best pacifier for tongue-tied babies

Our opinion

Colors: White, pink, purple, teal
Theme: First words / baby talk
Age range: 0 – 6 months
Special features: Orthodontic
Nipple shape: Flat
Materials: Silicone, non-toxic plastic

Tongue-tie is a relatively common issue with babies in which the lingual frenulum is connected at a point that’s close to the tip of the tongue. This can restrict the baby’s tongue motion, leading to issues with breastfeeding and, inevitably, lack of weight gain and crankiness.

While surgery is sometimes recommended in severe cases, some doctors feel that natural growth softens the tissue of the lingual frenulum, negating the issue. Pacifiers like the NUK Baby Talk Puller (check price on Amazon) are great for tongue-tied babies, as they encourage tongue movement and exploration.

They’re sturdy, easy to clean picks that promote good orthodontic development, while the heart-shaped shield and ventilation holes make it easy for baby to breathe.

What we love
  • Great for tongue tied babies, because the nipple design encourages tongue motion and exploration
  • Made with orthodontic health in mind
Watch for
  • Water can become trapped inside the pacifier’s nipple when washing, so take caution

And our winner is…

When something has become an industry-standard, you can be sure it’s earned the right to such an accolade.

The Philips Avent Soothie Pacifier (check price on Amazon) is the preferred newborn pacifier of hospitals because it’s designed to be safe, healthy, and comforting for new babies of all shapes and sizes.

Their materials are non-toxic, the nipple is sturdy, smooth, and perfect in size, plus it encourages suckling in a healthy way that can make latching easier. It’s hard not to notice the ubiquitous presence of these universally loved pacifiers, which is why they’re our Editor’s Choice.

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Neve Spicer
Written by Neve Spicer Updated on September 24th, 2021

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