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Many babies enjoy the ability to suck beyond what they need to be fed, and as teeth start coming in, will benefit from having something to chew on to soothe their gums. That''s where pacifiers (also known as pacis, binkies, dummies, nubbies, and many other odd names) and teethers come in. Many of these are made from plastics and silicone.
Some teethers are made out of polyvinyl chloride, which can leach plasticizers. In the past, this included now-banned phthalates. They may also be made with plastics that release bisphenols, antimicrobials, benzophenones, and parabens. Solvent ethylene glycol and styrene have been reported in teethers/pacifiers to Washington State. Teethers can be made of many hard and semi-hard materials.
Pacifiers can be made of latex, or plastics, in addition to safer silicone.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends waiting until your baby is a month old before introducing a pacifier, and then weaning them from pacifier use sometime between six months and a year old. Reliance on a pacifier at two years of age or older could harm dental development. Even if your baby is not allergic to latex, the softer material can tear when used with older babies who have teeth.
Pacifiers come in many shapes, and are sized for babies as they grow. Your baby will have their own preferences on style, and these preferences may change as they grow.
For pacifiers, silicone is the safer material. If using a pacifier with a plastic shield, make sure it is made without PVC.
For teethers, consider skipping synthetic materials (plastic, latex, silicone) all together. A wet cotton washcloth, stuck in the freezer, can offer a lot of relief, as can stainless steel spoons, or unfinished wood blocks (that are not choke hazards). If you do want a "rubbery" teether, consider food-grade silicone.
MADE SAFE has certified the following products:
- Star Teether / Green
- Star Teether / Orange
References & Resources
Learn more about the hidden hazards by reviewing the glossary or take a deep dive by reading Safer Products for Babies and Toddlers: Resources and Recommendations for Retailers.