Pacifiers that have soft holders are safer if your toddler falls with it in his mouth.

The Safest Pacifiers

by Sharon Perkins

Pacifiers: most parents either love 'em or hate 'em. But when your toddler is addicted to that little piece of rubber and plastic, one thing is for sure: you have them around the house--all around the house. When your toothy toddler chomps down on his passy, you might have concerns about how safe a pacifier is for him. Pacifiers come in a variety of types and some are safer than others.

1. Choking Hazards

Anything your toddler shoves into his mouth can become a choking hazard if a piece of it breaks off. For this reason, avoid pacifiers with any type of bling that could break off. Choose pacifiers with a ring or holder too big to present a choking hazard and if possible, buy pacifiers that don't look like you could separate the nipple from the holder with your teeth. Pacifiers with a hard plastic holder can also do more damage if your toddler falls with it in his mouth; the hard plastic is also more likely to break in a fall, leaving pieces that could be swallowed.

2. Ditch the Ribbons

As tempting as it is, don't attach the pacifier to your kiddo's PJs with a ribbon or anything else he could wrap around his neck or get caught on furniture. Even a short ribbon can get caught between the crib slats. Some pacifiers glow in the dark, which can save you from bleary-eyed pawing through the crib at 3 a.m. looking for the thing while your toddler wails.

3. Allergy Risks

Avoid latex pacifiers; latex is a common allergy. Choose silicone models, if you can get your toddler to accept them. Silicone doesn't soften like latex will and the nipples hold up longer. But for that reason, some kids don't like them as well. If your little sucker develops a rash or swelling in or around his mouth, consider the possibility that the latex pacifier is the culprit. Latex allergy can also cause wheezing, hives or a runny or stuffy nose.

4. Orthodontist Concerns

When your 2-year-old is screaming in the night for his best friend, the last thing on your mind is whether or not the pacifier is wrecking his tooth alignment. Your pediatrician might harp on the subject, but he doesn't have to listen to your crying child at 3 a.m. But the "pacifier as a tool for future orthodontia" argument is valid; using a pacifier after age 1 can change your child's jaw and palate shape, which can cause his upper teeth to slant outward, according to MayoClinic.com. As hard as it is, consider going cold turkey somewhere between age 1 and 2, Consumer Reports suggests, and prepare for a few difficult nights.

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