A pacifier is a plastic or rubber device for a baby to chew or suck on. Babies often need to suck for satisfaction rather than for food.

Usually babies don't need as much sucking time by about 6 months of age. The pacifier can easily be taken away at that time, before the baby gets too accustomed to using it for comfort. It can be replaced by another comfort device.

Long-term use of a pacifier may cause teeth to be crooked or out of alignment as the child gets older. Some pacifiers are designed by orthodontists to try to minimize the damage to jaws.

Pacifiers can be dangerous to children if they are attached to strings that may get tangled around the baby's neck.

Last Updated: February 19, 2009

Author: Jan Nissl, RN, BS

Medical Review: Michael J. Sexton, MD - Pediatrics & Thomas Emmett Francoeur, MDCM, CSPQ, FRCPC - Pediatrics

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