2013 July 2 by Dr. Randy
How To Best Clean A Pacifier That’s Fallen To The Floor
Your baby’s pacifier falls on the ground. What should you do before giving it back to your baby?
Run it under the faucet
Suck on it yourself
Follow the 10 second rule and just give it back to her
What is the best thing to do when the Binky falls on the ground?
Parents’ cleaning methods studied
Believe it or not a recent study evaluated the effect of different parental pacifier cleaning practices on the incidence of allergies in children. The conclusion of the study was that the babies of parents who sucked on the pacifiers had a lower rate of eczema and allergy, less allergic responses on allergy testing, and a lower eosinophil white blood cell count, all of which indicate less allergies.
Babies in the study were signed up at birth. Babies chosen for the study had a family history of allergy. At 4 months their saliva was tested for bacteria and parents were questioned about their pacifier cleaning methods. Children were followed for 3 years. Different salivary bacterial characteristics could also be distinguished between babies whose parents sucked on their pacifiers.
More exposure to bacteria = less allergies
The authors suggest that allergies were reduced because of the increased transfer of bacteria from parents to their babies when parents sucked on the pacifier. It is well known that early exposure to bacteria helps to prevent allergies. A protective effect from allergies is conveyed by early exposure to pets and farm animals, crowded housing, poverty, and large families.
Similarly, supplementation with healthy intestinal bacteria and vaginal delivery (as opposed to cesarean section) are also associated with a reduced risk of allergies. Bacteria are helpful.
Modern practices of thorough cleaning and household disinfection may be creating more susceptibility to allergies and recurrent infections.
Most parents in the study (80 percent) rinsed off the pacifier to clean it. That makes sense since the floor or ground may contain things that you don’t want in your baby’s mouth (or your mouth), like dog hair and petrochemicals.
What should you do?
Perhaps a practice that makes the most sense is to either rinse off the pacifier first then suck on it before giving it back to your baby, or just take the altruistic path of sucking it yourself if no water is readily available.