For an infant, sucking on a pacifier can be supremely soothing. So here's how to keep your little sucker happy and pacified.
: Never tie a pacifier to any part of a baby or to her clothing or crib; whatever you use could get tangled around her neck.
Step 1: Choose right size Choose the right pacifier for your baby's age. Pacifiers come in three sizes—those for babies six months and younger, for babies from six to 18 months, and for babies over 18 months old.
TIP: A baby's drive to suck is especially intense between 2 and 4 months, so this is a good time to present a pacifier.
Step 2: Choose one piece Choose a well-made pacifier. The best pacifiers are one piece, with the nipple and base firmly attached—pacifiers with multiple parts could come apart and pose a choking hazard.
Step 3: Choose nipple Choose a pacifier with a soft and pliable nipple. Despite the availability of so-called "orthodontically-shaped" pacifiers, the only thing that really matters is that the nipple feels right to your baby.
TIP: Latex nipples are softer than silicone ones, but silicone doesn't retain odors and holds up better after repeated cleanings.
Step 4: Choose wide shield Choose a pacifier with a wide shield—that's the part of the base that presses against the outside of the baby's mouth. It should be at least an inch and a half wide—any narrower and it could fit inside a baby's mouth. It should also have air holes to help keep moisture from building up beneath it, which could lead to a rash.
Step 5: Choose bright color Choose a brightly colored pacifier. They're easier to find for both the baby—who may wake and look for it during nap-time—and for you, when you're trying to locate it under the sofa or dig it out of the depths of a diaper bag.
Step 6: Choose dishwasher-safe Choose a pacifier that's dishwasher-safe.
TIP: Pacifiers mysteriously disappear all the time, so when you find the right one for your baby, don't hesitate—stock up on it.
Step 7: Offer to baby Lastly, but most importantly, choose a pacifier your baby likes. Offer her several different models to choose from; she'll know what she likes—and spit out the rest!
FACT: In Britain, Australia, and New Zealand, pacifiers are called "dummies," while in Canada, they're called "soothers."