A Very Bad Pacifier

Very good in NICU, but using this pacifier with older infants and children creates problems with feeding, tongue and teeth.

About 20 years ago, a new pacifier came into production designed for babies in NICU.  It was completely latex free which was it’s feature.

It is OK for very small NICU babies… definitely not OK for bigger babies.  This is why.

Teaches bad sucking:  There are 2 ways a baby gets milk out of the bottle or breast; by sucking, an event that uses tongue, palate and cheeks to pull a stream of milk out and by chewing the end of the nipple which only empties milk at the end of the nipple into the baby’s mouth.  A full term baby is born knowing how to suck, he has probably been sucking a thumb for months, but not so the preemie.  Sucking occurs at the back of the tongue and he must be taught.

Keeps the tongue in the front of the mouth or sticking out of the mouth: There is not enough of a hub on this nipple to capture for sucking or to keep the pacifier from falling out of  the mouth when at rest. Therefore the baby must press it against the top of his mouth with his tongue, and this is a mistake.  You can understand the problem if you put this pacifier in your mouth and attempt to hold it in place without using bottom teeth.  Then try sucking on it, there is no bulb to keep the back of the tongue down and curled… no way to engage it to suck and therefore it essentially blocks the throat.

Risking ‘buck teeth’:  The basic physical things a baby learns remain his preference for a lifetime.  Learning to apply pressure with the tongue against the upper ridge of teeth will possibly cause him to tongue-thrust during deep sleep.  This applies heavy pressure against the back of his upper teeth, pushing them outward.  Braces will change it but his tongue thrusting will continue recreating the problem.  The tip of the tongue has a normal position, gently resting against the upper palate.

For more pacifier tips and tricks see PACIFIER posts on sidebar.

Teaching a Preemie to Suck

There is only one pacifier shape that teaches good sucking.  All others, except the Nuk, work against it.

Because of prematurity the baby is born before the full, strong sucking reflex was established.  He must be taught to suck,  to gain cheek muscles,  to learn the correct combination of sucking and pulling without air leaks and to transfer these skills from the bottle to the breast. Working in NICU for 20 years, I’ve used this system of teaching sucking efficiency with hundreds of babies and it works every time.

  • Hold the bottle near the neck with the thumb and middle finger and using your last 2 fingers, support him under the chin, then when he starts sucking, put traction on the bottle. The chin support  brings the jaw forward and the tongue forward and his response to the traction is to curl his tongue around the nipple. This with the ring of the nipple against his mouth gives a firm, efficient package and he will begin to build up strength, cheek muscles and stamina.  He will take a few sucks and then stop to rest.  This is hard work for him in the beginning.  Some nurses twist the nipple repeatedly in the baby’s mouth, others pump up and down or back and forth. The baby will not learn to suck if that’s the case. They are simply expressing milk into it’s mouth. (and it makes me crazy)
  • The Pacifier. There is only one pacifier that teaches them to suck correctly. It’s the original Binky (pink image below), a rather large, rounded bulb with a stem fitting into a curved mouthpiece. This thing is magic.  It will teach him to suck at breast like a normal newborn. Email Binky (Playtex) and ask where to buy them near you.  The NUK pacifier was designed by a German orthodontist to bring a receding chin out and it does not strengthen the tongue.  Other pacifiers are either too short, too straight or too flat, preventing the infant’s learning a good tongue curl and grip.





Gerber is again marketing the original Binky for which every parent should grateful.  It’s called First Essentials and if not in your grocery stores, it’s available on Amazon.

It’s Easy to Get Rid of the Pacifier

It’s easier to stop the pacifier than the thumb.  Much easier and for that reason, the pacifier is a godsend.  It should be gone well before the child is 3 because by that time continued sucking on it will determine the shape of his teeth.  Pacifiers prevent the top front teeth from growing down and therefore the side teeth will be longer, giving a Dracula shape.  Watch for the very first signs of this.  It may be before age three.

One day, sit your child down and line up all his pacifiers.  Tell him that ‘It’s a rule’, When a boy is 3 he doesn’t get any more pacifiers so when the last one is lost, he will become a ‘big kid’ and no longer use pacifiers.  Then remind him of older children he knows who he never sees with a pacifier.

Then when you see a pacifier under a piece of furniture or left outside, snatch it up and hide it until the last one is gone.  (I hid them in their dad’s sock drawer.)  Then help your child search for it.

After three days, put the pacifier in the cushion of the sofa or a chair and find it with a flourish.  Give it back to the child.  he’ll put it in his mouth, suck a few times, make a face, throw it down and never look back.  It’s finished.

With the thumb sucker…  we had to promise her a bike when she was 5.

Pacifier for a Weak Chin

The Nuk Sager pacifier was designed as an orthodontic tool to bring an infant’s chin out and it works like magic.  When my children were infants in the 60s, we had to send to Germany for them.  Now they are in your local store.

The strange design brings the bottom jaw out and the curved plastic of the frame seats the pacifier firmly against the mouth as the baby sucks, creating a perfect  system.  This pacifier also brings the bottom jaw and the tongue forward to open the airway for infant stridor… the loud breathing that some newborns with weak chins have.  No other pacifier style brings the jaw forward!

Holding the baby with his head supported and neck straight is also important for keeping his airway open.  

The three women below were born with almost no chin, a characteristic of both sides of the family.  The Nuk Sager pacifier puts strong pressure on the muscles of the jaw, bringing it out in a normal position.