Every parent has been there: that moment when the paci pops out and tumbles to the floor and you’re faced with the ultimate dilemma. Do find a way to clean it or suffer through the tears till you can get to your pacifier stash at home? A new study offers surprising insight on how to clean your baby’s pacifier.
The new study followed 128 new moms for a year and a half after giving birth, checking in with them at regular intervals to find out how parents were cleaning their baby’s pacifiers. Turns out, they carry the best cleaner with them all the time.
Of the 74 moms who reported their babies used a pacifier, the majority washed them by hand; 41 percent also sterilized them. However, 12 percent just popped the pacifier into their own mouths to clean them.
“The microbes that a child is exposed to in infancy can affect the way their immune system develops,” said Dr. Eliane Abou-Jaoude, an allergy and immunology fellow at Henry Ford Health System in Detroit and lead author of the new study. The research doesn’t prove a direct link between bacteria exposure and preventing allergies, however the team plans to follow up with families for the next few years to see if the pattern continues as the kids grow.
Abou-Jaoude clarifies, “We are not telling parents to clean their child’s pacifier by sucking on the pacifier. Bad bacteria can be transferred by a parent sucking on the pacifier and then giving it to their child, exposing them to other infections.”
What the findings really address is that it’s okay to let your kids have some exposure to dirt and bacteria and that kids do not need to live in a hygienic bubble. “Let them play in the dirt,”Dr. Wendy Sue Swanson, a pediatrician at Seattle Children’s Hospital, told TODAY. “Introduce foods to them early in life, and allow them to explore the world in some ways like we used to.”