Are Pacifiers Bad for My Baby?

– Written by JoAnna Inks 

baby with a pacifier - JoAnna Inks Sleep Solutions

My thought is that many parents feel a tad guilty the first time they use a pacifier to soothe their baby.

Or, maybe not because a screaming baby in the car or a long grocery line will make us do just about anything to calm them down!

Honestly, pacifiers often work since babies are born with the instinct to suck.  Sucking does soothe them, which is why they’ll suck on just about anything that gets near their mouth whether it’s a bottle, breast, toy or a finger.

There comes a time when babies can self-soothe, and long-term pacifier use is known to cause some problems.  Many agree that pacifier use up until age 1 is okay and anything past age 2, and there’s most likely going to be some issues.

Today, we’ll have a look at a few good reasons to ditch the pacifier.


Pacifiers interfere with consolidated nighttime sleep, period.  It’s humanly impossible to keep a pacifier in your mouth when you’re in the deepest stages of sleep.  

So, baby falls asleep with a pacifier, and the pacifier falls out during deep sleep and then when baby cycles to light sleep they realize that there’s no pacifier and they’re going to let you know about it.  

I have clients that were putting their baby’s pacifier back up to 8 times every night!  


Brief wake ups are frequent in the night, and if your baby depends on that external pacifier to get to sleep, then they’ll wake up completely and need it to go back to sleep.  

This fragmented sleep is cause for a tired child, which we all know is no fun.

You can see how this can cause an issue over and over each night!

Dental problems

Pediatric dentists often recommend that a baby stop using a soother when they start to teethe.  

Teeth can be permanently affected by sucking on a soother.  Overbites and crossbites caused by pacifiers can lead to issues with speech, the appearance of teeth & even chewing.

Ear infections

New studies have shown that pacifiers can be to blame for recurring ear infections.  

This is not always the case as my son is on his 3rd set of ear tubes and never had a pacifier in his life!   

However, the fact remains that children who use a paci are 3-5 times more likely to develop ear infections.


By the time a baby is about the age of 1, they enter into their speech development phase.  Babies start trying many new sounds and babble a lot while they learn their new skill. If your child continually has a pacifier in their mouth, they’ll be a lot less likely to practice their new skill.

A soother can make it harder for a baby’s lip and tongue muscles to develop normally, according to Patricia Hamaguchi, a speech-language pathologist and author of Childhood, Speech, Language, and Listening Problems: What Every Parent Should Know.

You may be wondering about now how to discourage the use of a pacifier.

You have a few options.

Never start using one.  LOL

Or, if your child does use one they may start to phase out of it themselves by the age of two. 

Although, if your child is struggling with any of the issues above that’s a long time to wait for them to phase out of it.  

There are others that won’t give it up without a huge fight!

My suggestion after working with many clients over the years is to pull the pacifier “cold turkey” and don’t look back.

“Cold turkey” isn’t a very popular approach with most of my clients, at first.

However, once they see that their child is over the pacifier in a few short days and sleeping like a champ, they know it was the right thing to do.

Do you have a child that isn’t sleeping well?

Book a free discovery call so that you can share with me your child’s sleep struggles and I can help you.

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I look forward to hearing from you soon!