Take a closer look at your baby’s pacifier

Pacifiers are an integral part of baby care — a soothing product that is beneficial to infants. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has even suggested pacifiers may reduce the risk of SIDS. Yet when KID took at look at SaferProducts.gov reports, we found a recent string of incident and injury reports involving pacifiers that raise questions as to whether a review of pacifier safety standards is required.

In the past five years, 12 pacifiers have been recalled.  Most were recalled because they failed to meet safety standards or fell apart, posing choking and ingestion. Some pacifiers were even found to be toxic.

A review of recent product injury reports from SaferProducts.gov, the consumer incident database at the US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), shows 32 reports involving pacifiers.  Common reports indicate that infants have been able to break pacifiers, usually while pacifier is in the infant’s mouth or while child is sleeping, and the pieces may cause lacerations or lead to choking. Common injuries caused by broken pacifier pieces are bruising and bleeding of the roof of the mouth or the gums.

The more frequently reported brands are MAM AIR Pacifiers and Phillip’s AVENT Pacifiers.

Reports have also shown infants choking on pacifiers as they try to insert the pacifier sideways, causing the pacifier to flip while inside the mouth and posing a large choking risk, or as the pacifier breaks within the mouth. It is also possible for the nipple of the pacifier to detach. One incident reports of a child swallowing the nipple of a pacifier and needing to remove it through partial bowel removal surgery. Other infants have choked as a pacifier lodged into the back of their throats. Less common incidences cover a variety of pacifier that sprout mold, regardless of the pacifier being used or not. Within these incidences, no deaths have been reported.

Based on the reports:

  • Of 32 incident and injury reports, 72% stated pacifier was a choking hazard, 19% a laceration hazard, and 19% an ingestion hazard (which includes incidences of mold, material chipping, and children swallowing pieces of the pacifier)
  • although the age range of the reports were between 3 months and 23 months, the average age of infants in these reports is 8 months
  • Thirty-four percent of the incidences involved babies choking on pacifier [pieces] and/or the pacifier impeding air flow to the child.

KID recommends:

  • Parents should check pacifiers frequently for wear and tear, and replace older or worn pacifiers
  • Check for recalled pacifiers or those with reports of harm at SaferProducts.gov.
  • Likewise, if you have an incident with a pacifier, report it at SaferProducts.gov

Because of their potential for choking, pacifiers were one of the only children’s products required to meet a CPSC standard prior to the passage of Danny’s Law in 2008. Yet, with these reports and recalls, it is clear that either the standard should be reviewed and possibly strengthened or more enforcement is needed to keep non-compliant pacifiers off the market and out of our homes.


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17 Responses to Take a closer look at your baby’s pacifier

  1. Teresa levy says:

    My 15 months baby almost choked today with a Chicco pacifier in the back of her throat. Manage to pull it out and I think I cut her mouth doing this.I can’t believe this happen.was in the middle do the night, she was crying,she could of been dead today.

  2. Feven says:

    My 6 month old just managed to put his entire pacifier in his mouth, side ways. Luckily I was close and noticed right away and was able to take it out. Scares me to death that something we feel is safe and okay for our babies to have with very little supervision, could so quickly turn into a very hazardous situation. Please watch your children while they have them. P.S it was a Nuk pacifier.

  3. Elizabeth says:

    I’ve had 3 of my avent pacifiers handles break right off! Yes, three! Since two come in a package together, I assumed those soothers may have been old? But now with the third?!?! It happened when I pulled the soother out by the handle to feed my baby. She had some suction on it while I was pulling it out but I didn’t pull too hard. The soother came apart in three pieces. Two pieces being very small and especially hazardous, and the third piece being the nipple that is attached to the base. My daughter is 5 months and luckily this has always happened on my watch, but now she takes the soother out of her mouth on her own and puts it back in herself, so I’m very concerned. I sterilize my pacifiers regularly, is this why they break?!?! Have I compromised them? Should I complain about this to the company?

    • Kids In Danger says:

      You should report the problem to SaferProducts.gov — the CPSC’s public database of consumer incident reports. CPSC can then take action or get a response from the company. Thanks for sharing this.

  4. Raquel says:

    Mam pacifier.
    My son is almost 8 months and he too put his pacifier in his mouth sideways. He was chocking and it was decreasing his breathing airflow. Although I reported this to mam all they could do is replace it. How is this a solution?

    • Kids In Danger says:

      Please also report the incident to SaferProducts.gov — that way other consumers can see it and the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) will take action. You will remain anonymous, but other families will learn of this incident.

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  6. cindy mcquay says:

    My husband bought a flashing lightup lacifier at a skate rink, Does say for 6 and up, but he had already let our grandson try it out, and the handle pulled right off! Also wondering if those wild lights couldbe harmful as well!

  7. alicia says:

    I think that people aren’t taking the caution they need to with their children. For one, when you buy a binky pull on it AS HARD AS YOU CAN before giving it to your child, you may not realize it but children and babies are VERY strong. I have nothing to say about the single piece binkys except to always watch your child closely or at least keep an ear out for any oddities its okay to feel like you are having a heart attack all day everyday that means you are doing something right. Also if possible when your child falls asleep take the binky out of their mouth not all are okay with that but if they are it can give you some peace of mind. ALWAYS check the age it ALWAYS says it somewhere on the package. Having kids is THE hardest thing in the world and if it’s not then something is wrong…I agree to look up hazards or mishaps on ANYTHING you buy for your child I Google everything I may cause more anxiety myself but at least I am aware and cautious no one is perfect of course and some things are out of our control but every chance we get we need to be on our guard these children are counting on us to make sure that they are safe. And lastly, there is not much the manufacturers can do if your child can open their mouth very wide the only solution may be to eliminate the binky they usually make the binky as big as it can be without interfering with breathing from the nose any bigger would be blocking. The best option is for parents to be more cautious or not give a binky at all.

  8. Vivian says:

    My child died from a pacifier a safety pacifier back years ago; I’ve tried warning people about using them but they look at you like mind your own business. It’s just another accident waiting to happen people lived without them before they were invented; wish I’d never seen one.

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  10. Amanda says:

    My 5 month old daughter has managed to put her whole pacifier backwards in her mouth. It was an avent 0 to 6 month. When we went to Wal-Mart to find a larger size all of the avent were larger than they had been. I haven’t found a recall on them. Has anyone else had this issue?

  11. nina says:

    my daughter swallowed the gel inside the pacifier and i dont know if it is poisonous or not.

    • Kids In Danger says:

      The gel is probably nontoxic. But if you want to report that it broke, releasing the gel, report it at saferproducts.gov.

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