Parenting Hacks and Tips: How to Clean a Pacifier

A pacifier is a trusty companion that magically calms our baby during moments of stress. But with its soothing powers comes the responsibility to keep it clean. It’s essential to keep our baby’s health and safety first with pacifier hygiene, from daily maintenance to inevitable drops.

So, how do we ensure that our baby’s pacifier stays hygienic and germ-free? Let’s dive into understanding the risks of dirty pacifiers, practical tips for keeping your baby’s binky clean, and some ways to avoid drops!

Why Pacifier Hygiene Matters

Before we jump into hygiene tips, let's talk about why pacifier hygiene is so important. Babies have developing immune systems, making them more susceptible to infections and illnesses. A dirty pacifier can harbor harmful bacteria and germs, increasing your baby's risk of getting sick. 

Very young babies are at the highest risk of developing illnesses from germs and bacteria. Older babies and toddlers aren’t immune, though. It’s always best to clean a binky between uses and after contact with dirty surfaces like the floor, table, or counters.

If you give your child a dirty pacifier, you risk exposing their respiratory system to bacteria and germs. Some common illnesses or health issues your baby can get from a dirty pacifier include:

  • Bacterial Sinusitis: This bacterial infection causes symptoms like nasal discharge and lasts longer than 10 days.
  • Bronchiolitus: A viral lung infection most common in infants and young children in the winter. Can lead to difficulty breathing.
  • Bronchitus: If your little one gets this viral infection, they may cough up mucus due to inflamed tubes in the lungs.
  • Common Cold: Symptoms of this viral infection of the nose and throat include congestion, cough, low fever, runny nose, and sore throat.
  • Ear Infections: Caused by either virus or bacteria, ear infections cause symptoms like pain and ringing in ears.
  • Bacterial or Viral Sore Throats

By keeping your baby's pacifier clean, you're helping to protect their health and well-being.

How Often to Clean a Pacifier

  1. Sanitize before first use! You’ll want to get all the manufacturing ickiness off your baby’s brand-new pacifier. Usually, you can do this by boiling the pacifier, but always check manufacturer directions.
  2. Quick clean between each use.
  3. Quick clean after the binky comes in contact with unclean surfaces like the floor, tables, etc.
  4. Regular sanitizing. You can choose your own schedule, like every week or every other week.

How to Sterilize and Clean Pacifiers

First and foremost, it’s best to always check the manufacturer’s directions before cleaning or sanitizing. Most binkies can be cleaned in the same ways, but it’s better to be safe than sorry, especially if you want to use a dishwasher.

1. Boiling

The quickest and most common way to sterilize a pacifier is by giving it a quick boil. Usually, you can leave the pacifier in boiling water for five minutes to ensure all germs are bacteria are removed. Boiling a pacifier is the most accessible and cost-effective method of sterilization.

2. Pacifier Sterilizer or Steamer

Many companies sell small steamer pacifier sterilizers or UV sterilizers if you would rather not boil your baby’s paci. Both options work, it just depends on personal preference and needs!

3. Hot Water and Dish Soap

For cleaning between each use or when dirty, washing with hot water and soap is the most common, accessible, and effective way to clean a binky regularly. When fighting germs, soap and water are always great options!

4. Dishwasher

The dishwasher can be a quick, leave-it-and-go way to clean your baby’s binkies, especially if you’re cleaning more than one. Always check the manufacturer’s guidelines to ensure the pacifier is dishwasher safe. We don’t want melted and damaged binkies!

5. Pacifier Wipes

Water and soap is always effective, but wipes can be a great on-the-go option. Wipes can cause allergic reactions and sensitivities, though, so always check the ingredients. Also, don’t substitute pacifier wipes with other kinds of wipes that include extra ingredients and fragrances like baby wipes.

6. Avoid “Cleaning” With Your Mouth

We’ve all been there: your baby just won’t stop throwing their binkie, you’ve cleaned it countless times, and popping it in your mouth to clean it is so tempting. It’s best to avoid this for your baby’s health, though.

You might have seen articles and blogs reference a study that suggests cleaning a pacifier with your mouth can help reduce your child’s risk of allergies and allergic reactions like asthma and eczema.

This correlation happens because of the harmless microorganisms in our mouths that we can introduce our little ones to. However, this is the first study on this topic and the researchers in the study state that more research is needed before making a solid claim

Other doctors agree that the risks far outweigh the benefits. From the Cleveland Clinic, Dr. Sherman cautions against doing so because you may feel healthy, but you never know what microorganisms (like bacteria and viruses) you’re carrying that your baby’s undeveloped immune system can’t handle. Dentists also caution that cleaning a pacifier with your mouth can introduce cavity-causing bacteria.

Your little one will build up their immune system in plenty of other, safer ways. Breastfeeding, regular doctor visits, and good sleep are all beneficial. As your little ones get older, they’ll encounter plenty of microorganisms through regular play and exploration.

Remember to always research baby hygiene and safety for your little one’s well-being. 

Tips for Keeping Your Pacifier Clean

You’ll always have to clean binkies after each use, but you can help keep your pacifier clean during travel and reduce the risk of drops. 

1. Carry Extras

It’s always a good idea to have a few spare pacifiers on hand, especially when you’re out and about. If one falls on the ground, you won’t have to worry about rushing to clean it. 

mushie linen pacifier clips

2. Pacifier Cases

A good pacifier case keeps binkies clean and safe during travel. You’ll be able to carry them in your bag or stroller basket without worrying about contamination from your other essentials. And, if you fumble getting it out of the bag, the pacifier case will protect the binky if you drop it!

3. Pacifier Clips

Babies can be clumsy! And, we all know how frustrating it can be when your baby realizes that throwing their pacifier is pretty fun. A pacifier clip will safely attach your baby’s binky to their clothes, so it won’t go far when they drop or throw it.

4. Monitor for Wear and Tear

Always check your baby’s paci for normal wear and tear. Many manufacturers will include guidelines for how long a binky will last, especially for ones made of natural rubber latex. Damage like tiny tears can harbor harmful substances and make your paci more difficult to clean well.

Hygiene First!

Keeping your baby's pacifier clean and safe doesn't have to be a daunting task. With these simple hygiene tips, you can ensure that your little one's favorite soothing tool remains a source of comfort and not a breeding ground for germs.

As parents, we're always learning and adapting to meet the needs of our babies. By prioritizing hygiene, you're keeping your baby healthy and fostering a sense of security and well-being.

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