The Pacifier Debate: Should It Stay or Go During Baby's Sleep?

When it comes to parenting, few topics spark as much debate as the use of pacifiers during sleep. Parents and experts alike grapple with the question: Should the pacifier stay or go when it's time for baby to sleep?

The Benefits of Pacifiers

Understanding the full spectrum of pacifier use during sleep starts with recognizing its benefits. Many pediatricians agree that pacifiers can be more than just soothing; they might actually serve a vital role in baby’s sleep regimen.

One of the top benefits cited is the link between pacifier use and reduced risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). Numerous studies, including those spearheaded by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), suggest that pacifiers at naptime and bedtime throughout a baby's first year can help decrease SIDS risk. This protective effect is believed to occur because the pacifier helps keep the baby's airway open, thereby facilitating easier breathing.

Pacifiers are also champions at inducing sleep. For babies, sucking on a pacifier can be incredibly relaxing. This is because the act of sucking releases calming hormones, helping babies settle down to sleep and even transition between the cycles of sleep more smoothly.

Pacifier Drawbacks

Despite their benefits, there are several potential drawbacks to using pacifiers during sleep. One major concern is dental problems. Prolonged pacifier use, particularly past the age of two, can lead to dental misalignment or the development of an overbite. These issues are sometimes referred to as 'pacifier teeth' and might require orthodontic attention later in life.

Another significant drawback is dependency. Some babies become so accustomed to their pacifier that they can’t sleep without it. This dependency can lead to frequent wake-ups whenever the pacifier falls out of the baby’s mouth. For parents, this means potentially disrupted nights spent locating and replacing the pacifier to soothe the baby back to sleep.

Speech delays are another concern linked to excessive pacifier use. Some experts believe that if a child is always sucking on a pacifier, they might have fewer opportunities to babble and use speech, potentially delaying their verbal skills.

Practical Tips for Parents

If you decide to allow your child to use a pacifier during sleep, setting a limit on how long they use it during the day can help manage some risks. Encouraging the use of a pacifier principally for sleep and during times of acute distress can mitigate the potential for dental issues and speech delays.

It’s also helpful to wean children off their pacifier around the age of two. Gradually decreasing the times when a pacifier is available can aid in this transition. For sleep times, having a conducive sleep environment can ease this transition. Utilizing products like Sleepout Portable Blackout Curtain can create an optimal, distraction-free sleep setting, possibly reducing the child’s dependency on a pacifier for comfort.

Mother and baby with grey blackout curtains

Consulting with a Pediatrician

Each child’s needs and responses to pacifiers can be unique. Therefore, it’s always best to consult with a pediatrician when making a decision about pacifier use during sleep. Your child’s doctor can give personalized advice based on your child's health and developmental needs, helping you navigate the pros and cons in context.

Ultimately, the decision whether to let your baby use a pacifier during sleep is a personal one that depends on your child's preferences, health needs, and your family's lifestyle. While the benefits, especially in terms of SIDS prevention, are significant, the potential drawbacks require consideration and careful management.


The pacifier debate in relation to baby's sleep is multifaceted. On one hand, pacifiers can significantly reduce the risk of SIDS and help baby sleep more peacefully. On the other, they can lead to dependency, dental issues, and, possibly, speech delays if used excessively. Balancing its use, minimizing dependency by creating an optimal sleep environment, and consulting with pediatric experts can help ensure that your approach is tailored to benefit your baby’s health and growth best.

Welcoming a new baby is an exciting, albeit challenging, journey. Making informed decisions about elements like pacifier use during sleep is just one of the ways parents can ensure the wellbeing of their little one as they grow.

For those seeking additional ways to improve their baby's sleep environment, consider exploring blackout solutions like the Sleepout curtains, designed to support deeper and more restful sleep for your child.

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