The Shocking Shelf Life Of Pacifiers: Tips For Your Child’s Safety And The Hygienic Pacifier Option

November 9, 2015  |  

Many babies want them. Some babies need them.

Whether you call them pacifiers, binkies or soothers, parents call them lifesavers.

Like most new mothers, you might worry about germs and make time every night to scrub the pacifiers, bottles and nipples. However, your hard work may not pay off.

“I need to tell you what’s in this or on this (pacifier) that can make you sick,” said Tom Glass, DDS, Ph.D, professor of forensic sciences, pathology and dental medicine at Oklahoma State University Health Sciences Center in Tulsa.

Glass wanted to know if pacifiers pose a health risk for babies, so he started by gathering up pacifiers from families chosen at random at a Tulsa wellness center. His team of researchers swiped the surface of the pacifiers, then cut them up and tested the inside as well to determine what is growing on the surface and what’s growing down in those pores.”

It wasn’t long before the results were in and they couldn’t believe the bacteria they found.

“There are some strep (bacteria) in there and there are some listeria (bacteria) in there,” said Glass while looking into a microscope.

Standard lab cultures produced strep bacteria, various strains of staph, including staphylococcus aureus, plus the bacteria that causes pneumonia. The pacifier samples also produced the yeast that causes thrush.

RESULTS – Forty different species of bacteria were isolated from the 10 pacifiers tested. Read the OSU study here.

Even worse, the tests revealed mold, the kinds of mold that causes respiratory distress and, Asthma-like symptoms. After considering the findings, Glass now worries pacifiers are providing a way for certain germs to infect babies and then re-infect them over and over again. The type of organisms the study revealed, and the levels on the pacifiers, lead the doctor to believe binkies could make babies sick.

“Persistent or recurring ear infections, persistent or recurring colic, all of those are the kinds of organisms that we found in or on the pacifier,” said Glass. “The baby’s colicky. What do we do? We put the pacifier in, which is supposed to make the baby less colicky. But in reality, is providing everything we need to make the colic persistent.”

In their study, the OSU HSC researchers found there are three methods parents typically use to clean their baby’s pacifier. Glass found some parents simply dust it off on their sleeve. Others clean it off with a wet wipe.

“A third way that people deal with the pacifier dropping on the floor is for the mother to pick it up and put it in her mouth,” said Glass.

While many mothers would never consider that option, Glass suggests that is actually the best way to clean the pacifier, “Because the baby’s immune response comes from the mother, at least for the first six months,” he said.

At the end of each day, Glass recommends that parents scrub the baby’s pacifier or bleach it. However, his team’s study found those germs just keep growing.

It’s also recommended that pacifiers be used for only a short period of time. After just two weeks of use, it’s suggested that parents toss them.

During the 14-day period that a pacifier is in use, Glass recommends parents start the day with a baggy filled with clean pacifiers.

“Put them in the baggy and then take them with you,” he said. “As the child drops it, and puts it down on surfaces that you know are contaminated, just take the pacifier away. Put it in the used pacifier bag, get a new one out and give it to the child.”

For a hygienic and safer option, Natursutten created a 100 percent natural rubber one-piece pacifier and teether without joints or cracks thus eliminating the chance for dirt and bacteria to accumulate.


Known as the Ferrari of pacifiers, here’s why Natursutten is like the real thing and safer for baby!
o No BPA, PVC, phthalates or artificial coloring

o Softer than silicone – it wont leave marks on baby’s face

o Larger shield touches the nose, simulating breastfeeding

o Allergen-free

o No Cancer causing substances


The team at OSU Health Sciences Center went on to recommend new pacifiers at the following times:

1. First symptoms of illness

2. Once ill, after fever breaks

3. As soon as the child recovers

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