Pacifiers are perhaps the most recognizable tool for soothing a fussy little one apart from teething toys. If your bundle of joy came before their due date, never fear, there are still excellent pacifiers for premature babies.
Once you have tried everything else to calm your distressed infant, consider turning to this baby essential. We have found the seven best pacifiers for preemies so that you can soothe the crying and return to cuddling.
Overview of the 7 Pacifiers for Preemies You Should Know
Walking through the baby aisle it is easy to be overwhelmed by the myriad of pacifier options. There are many different designs, colors, listed benefits, and most importantly sizes. Choosing the correct size of pacifier is important for your baby’s safety, oral development, and comfort during use to reduce chances of your child spitting out the pacifier.
Most pacifiers list the age of intended use. These can range from 0+ to 0-6 months, and so on up to 18+ months. The sizing concerns the shield and the nipple.
The shield is the outer part of the pacifier that surrounds the nipple. The nipple is the soft silicone part that goes into the baby’s mouth. Each component has to be the appropriate size in order to be safe and comfortable for your child.
If you purchase a pacifier that is designed for a child younger than your baby such as pacifiers suited for newborns, you could be putting your little one at risk as your baby may be able to fit the entire device in his or her mouth.
If you select a pacifier that is recommended for a child older than yours, especially with preemies, the nipple may be too large and uncomfortable.
Preemie pacifiers can have features that go beyond traditional pacifier construction. Some feature notched cutouts to accommodate tubing from medical machines or for feeding. Additionally, they may have one-piece construction to lower the risk of pieces coming loose or breaking off which could pose safety risks.
Preemie sized pacifiers are designed specifically for preterm infants to provide them with the most comfort, safety, and ease of use.
As mentioned, selecting a pacifier for premature babies is important for your little one’s comfort, safety, and development. Pacifiers can be beneficial for premature babies.
One study found that premature infants who used a pacifier were able to progress to oral feeding sooner than their counterparts. As most infants learn and practice sucking motions in the womb during the later stages of pregnancy, preemies may need devices that can assist with this practice outside the womb.
Additionally, pacifier use, in general, has been associated with lower risk of SIDS.
However, it is important to choose the correct pacifier. The following should be taken into consideration when buying a pacifier for your preemie.
First, consider the size. Similar to how your baby is a perfect yet petite little bundle, you will want a pacifier on the smaller side as well. Traditional pacifiers are assigned age ranges, such as 0-6 months or 6+ months. You will want to find a pacifier produced specifically for preemies or 0+ months.
Comfort, specifically nipple shape, is another consideration. Nipples come in many different designs, each with their own benefits. Some boast better orthodontic development while others promise to feel more natural and like “mom”. It is not unusual to have to try a few different types before you find the best option that suits your child.
Ease of Use
Finally, consider ease of use for you as a parent. This entails cleaning, storage, and general use. Some pacifiers do not have a spot for a pacifier clip which can be a hassle. Some pacifiers come with a case that doubles as a sterilizer when placed in the microwave. Still, others are dishwasher safe, a beneficial characteristic for caregivers.
Although it may seem somewhat trivial, you may want to consider the pacifiers ability to have a strap or clip attached. Little babies find it difficult keeping them in the mouth especially if they have a tongue-tie and using pacifiers, while older ones sometimes throw them. Therefore, to keep this essential within reach pacifier straps and clips can be very useful. However, not all pacifiers have a place to attach a strap.
Trial and Error
Which pacifier is right for your baby? Thankfully, pacifiers are relatively inexpensive because the best way to find the optimal one is by trying them out. Each baby is unique and has likes and dislikes. Therefore, you will likely have to purchase a few different brands and test them out with your little one before you find the suitable one.
1. Wee Thumbie – Philips Aqua Preemie Pacifier
As the name suggests, the Wee Thumbie is designed to resemble the shape and size of a premature infant’s thumb. This means the micro preemie pacifier can help facilitate the learning of the sucking motion usually practiced in utero, helping to calm your baby and prepare them for oral feeding. This petite pacifier is the perfect size and weight for many premature babies.
- Nipple resembles the shape and size of a newborn thumb
- BPA free
- Short nipple length eliminates/reduces chances of gagging
- Lightweight so that preemies can retain it in their mouths.
- More costly than other pacifiers
- May be too small for some infants
- Aqua Preemie Pacifier
- Comforts, calms and soothes your Premature or Low Birth Weight Baby
- Modeled after the size and shape of the Preemie Thumb
2. Philips Avent Soothie Pacifier
The Philips Avent Soothie Pacifier is a very popular model. This wee soothie pacifier is commonly provided by hospitals and is hailed for its support of normal oral development. It is conducive to cleaning because of its one-piece construction. This design also lends itself to safety and lower choking risk, which is why it is one of the best pacifiers for preemies.
- One-piece design is easy to clean and sterilize
- Silicone shield is soft and reduces pressure on the mouth
- Nipple shape closely resembles natural shape if breastfeeding
- No place to easily attach a strap
- May be too heavy for a preemie to easily hold in their mouth
- The pacifier brand distributed in hospitals nationwide
- Used by medical professionals to calm newborns
- BPA free
3. RaZbaby JollyPop Baby Pacifier
From the creator of the original Soothie comes the RaZbaby JollyPop Baby Pacifier. Where the large circular shield of the Soothie Original may be too bulky and uncomfortable, the Razbaby solves this issue. It keeps the natural and orthodontically beneficial nipple shape but adds a curved shield for comfort, making it one of the pacifiers for preemies to consider.
- Curved silicone shield is soft and conforms to baby’s face
- Shield cut out means the child’s nose will not be covered or blocked
- Easy to attach pacifier clip or strap
- A little bulky and may be difficult for a preemie to keep in their mouth
- Narrow nipple shape may make it difficult for the baby to keep suction
- Possibility of older babies inverting the nipple by putting their finger in the hole
- Distributed in hospitals, NICU and well-baby units nationwide
- Made in the USA
- 100% BPA FREE Medical Grade Silicone
4. Evenflo Feeding Balance Plus Stage 1 Cylindrical Baby, Newborn, and Infant Pacifier
The Evenflo Feeding Balance Plus Stage 1 Cylindrical Baby, Newborn, and Infant Pacifier combines many popular pacifier features, which is why it is worth noted on our list of best pacifiers specially for preemies. It is small and appropriately shaped to support sucking development and breastfeeding., it is a silicone one-piece design for safety and comfort. The attached ring makes it effortless to attach a pacifier clip or strap.
- Comes with a steam bag for sanitizing
- Lightweight and flexible
- Easy to attach pacifier strap and/or clip
- The nipple may be too long for some babies
- Only available in clear design with no other patterns or colors
- STAGE 1: Designed to promote a natural tongue position, the Balance Plus Cylindrical Pacifier helps babies, newborns, and infants 0 – 6 months old self-soothe while supporting healthy sucking skills.
- BREASTFEEDING PACIFIER: Developed with support from Pediatric Feeding Specialists, the cylindrical shape of this binky allows your baby to mimic the tongue shape they make while breastfeeding, helping to safeguard your breastfeeding journey.
- REDUCE FATIGUE: Made from 100% soft silicone, these binkies are ultra-lightweight and flexible, helping to decrease mouth fatigue and making it easier for your baby to suck on for longer periods of time.
5. Tommee Tippee Closer to Nature Moda Baby Pacifier
Tommee Tippee Closer to Nature Moda Baby Pacifier is meant to be comfortable yet fashionable. This pacifier for premature babies has a nipple design that is the same across all products in the line so your preemie can transition to larger pacifiers with ease, and this is true for most Tommee Tippee products in the Moda line. The shield and nipple backing features a trendy pattern in striking colors.
- Nipple shape resembles that of a bottle to make feedings easier
- Fashionable design
- Symmetrical nipple promotes good orthodontic development
- The shield may be too large for some babies
- May not be ideal for exclusively breastfed babies due to nipple shape
- Symmetrical design: The Tommee Tippee Moda pacifier features a symmetrical silicone nipple and with no ‘wrong’ side up, it will always be placed correctly in baby’s mouth
- Acceptance guaranteed: Accepted by 97.5% of babies*, the 100% medical-grade, BPA-free silicone nipple is soft, flexible but extremely durable and won’t absorb stains and odors
- Kind on baby’s skin: The curved shield ensures a comfortable fit between baby’s nose and chin and the large holes allow extra air flow and prevent moisture build-up to help prevent skin irritation
6. NUK Sensitive Orthodontic Pacifiers
The NUK Sensitive Orthodontic Pacifier is made from smooth silicone that will not irritate your little one’s sensitive skin. The comfort continues with the natural nipple shape and nose cutout as to not impair breathing. The petite size of this NUK preemie pacifier is perfect among other orthodontic pacifiers for preemies.
- Dishwasher safe
- Comes with own carrying case that can be used in the microwave to sanitize
- The nipple is not a “balloon design” so water and bacteria cannot get trapped
- Nose cutout is too low for some babies and interferes with sucking
- Some pacifiers may crack or split where nipple meets shield
- The silicone may stick to blankets or sheets and pull the pacifier out when baby moves
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7. MAM Night Pacifiers
If you are looking for a small and light preemie pacifier, look no further than MAM Night Pacifiers. These preemie seized soothers use texture on the shield and nipple to decrease irritation and increase acceptance. This MAM preemie pacifier even glows in the dark for easy nighttime location, which is one reason that makes them one of the best options.
- SkinSoft nipple is texturized to feel like mom
- Curved shield has texture to prevent skin irritation of baby’s face
- Lightweight and easy to keep in mouth
- Water may get trapped in the nipple
- Breastfed babies may not like the flat symmetrical nipple shape
- Glow in the dark design only glows for a short while
- GLOWS AT NIGHT - These night pacifiers glow in the dark, making it easy for you to locate quickly at night without any stumbling and searching, so baby can sleep better.
- COMFORTABLE DESIGN – These cute pacifiers for babies are fun and functional. The curved shield with wide openings keep baby comfortable and allow baby’s skin to breathe.
- SILICONE NIPPLE – The BPA-free silicone nipple is a signature MAM pacifier design, with silky SkinSoft material and a symmetrical shape that's ideal for jaw and teeth development.
While all products listed have their strengths, the Wee Thumbie – Philips Aqua Preemie Pacifier comes out on top of the best pacifiers for preemies. It is the perfect size for premature infants, resulting in it not only being safe but exceedingly comfortable.
The short nipple design reduces gagging and increases the chances of acceptance, unlike the other preemie pacifier’s longer nipple designs. The shape of the nipple encourages proper sucking for both feeding and calming purposes. It is lightweight and is easy for preemies to retain in their mouths.
It is easy to use even with babies who have medical tubing thanks to the shield cut-out. The BPA silicone is simple to clean and soft on the baby’s face in comparison to the plastic shield designs. The combination of its size, ease of use, and comfort features make this an ideal pacifier for premature babies to assist with your baby care.
When you set out to find the perfect pacifier remember to keep in mind size, comfort, and ease of use. However, don’t be surprised if you have to cycle through a few brands before finding the optimal pacifier for your unique little one.
Last update on 2022-06-28 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API