Why 'Cleaning' the Pacifier With Your Spit Is a Bad Idea


"WAAAAAH!" Know what that sound is? A baby who lost their pacifier.

If you use them, babies will drop them. Fact.

They will land in the last place you want them to. Also fact.

Often you hear moms say they pop it in their mouth for a second, or just brush it off.

The thing is, there's actually a little more to consider before you put that pacifier in baby's mouth after it's fallen out.

First off, stop putting it in your mouth to "clean" it. Anything you're willing to put in your mouth is fine for your baby, and actually, your saliva is the worst thing about this whole scenario.

While genetics, diet, and dental hygiene affect your kiddo's dental health, so does the prescence and level of bacteria -- specifically, Streptococcus mutans. Brand new baby teeth have soft enamel and are very susceptible to decay, and your premature introduction of the bacteria from your mouth can actually infect your baby's mouth and rot their teeth. So can kissing them on the mouth and sharing spoons, but consider the level of saliva you transfer in each situation, and generally, your pacifier "trick" is one of the worst, especially considering you generally try to get your saliva all over the pacifier to "get off the germs." Oh, the irony. In fact, it's pretty likely moms are the main cause of this bacteria, as the higher the mom's level, the higher the baby's, even when genetics are taken into consideration aside from that.

So, your germs are worse than the dirt you just licked (and um, yuck for YOU, too). But how about that dirt? When is it an issue? Does the 5-second rule count?

I think we all know the 5-second rule is crap (if you didn't, you do now). It doesn't matter how long something is on the ground -- it touches what it touches, period. The issue with pacifiers especially is that moisture makes much more bacteria stick -- and thrive.

Two different studies -- one about salmonella and one about e. coli -- both showed that it didn't matter if things were picked up quickly or if they sat there -- they were affected or they weren't, period. And salmonella can survive in a dry environment, such as your carpet, for 28 days. Ick.

So if they drop it, especially because it's wet (more things stick and bacteria thrives), it doesn't matter if you snatch it up right away, there's germs on it -- period. If you're confused, check out this handy chart. (There are exceptions made if it's a raw steak and you're a puma, you know, just in case.)

So what SHOULD you do?

Well, buy a pacifier clip, or wash the pacifier with hot water and soap. Or both. Keep spares for this exact reason.

If you wouldn't let your child lick the spot it fell, it needs to be cleaned before going back in their mouths. Your home carpet is probably okay (if not, vacuum!), but the floor at Wal-Mart? Not so much.

Does this information change your view on the 5-second rule or using your saliva to clean the pacifier?


Image via Kittie26 /CafeMom

baby gear, baby health


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nicol... nicole4ray

When I had my first baby I used to suck on the paci to clean it off. Then I possibly gave my daughter RSV, I've never sucked a paci clean again. I use soap and water. My sister uses paci wipes, I don't know how affective those are, but I'm sure much better than saliva!

Chrys... Chrystal_A

My dentist has told me the same thing! Not safe!

Get a small travel size bottle and fill it with water.YES hot soap and water is a better solution but lets face it your at walmart and the kid drops it if you dont have a spare you dont want to rush to the bathroom to scrub it each time. There are also the pacis that close when dropped,another good solution. Its a good idea to carry extra pacis as well but if you happen to be some where w/o one just spray it with some water.

Cafe Amy Cafe Amy

Haha.... love the picture! I wish I had a pacifier like that when my kids were little. Too funny.

-Katy -Katy


My aunt used to do that with her babies.

She took one of her boys in for a  checkup and he dropped his, and she did that to clean it off. And the doctor thought it was a good idea.

Tara Dukaczewicz

this video supports 5 second rule...http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IsYOGM7wyns

Jen Heltzell

Even though the video (kinda) supports the 5-second rule, it doesn't mean that putting a pacifier in your mouth is ok.  Off topic much?

I always got grossed out when I'd watch a mom do that.  Especially at restaraunts.  Baby gets trace amounts of whatever mom is eating/drinking, and mom gets trace amounts of whatever has been dropped on that part of the floor.  Please make use of that glass of water they gave you that around half of us are prone to ignore.

Phils... PhilsBabyMama

I always thought that was weird.  Did the moms think that their spit would some how kill germs?  We never used pacifiers, but if a toy fell on the floor at the grocery store, etc, Maddox didn't get it back. I'd keep extras for just that reason, as inevitably, any toy he had ended up in his mouth. 

I've always kissed my kiddo on the mouth and shared spoons with him, though.

xavie... xavierlogan09

our son only used his pacifier for the first three months. we always washed ours off with soap and water. we were too worried he'd get sick. except only once or twice when we were out somewhere i wiped it off on my shirt but not in my mouth.

MTNes... MTNester1

I made pacifier clips in the days before they were available commercially.  Too bad I didn't get a patent, huh?

moder... modernmom2010

Gross. I would never lick the dirt off my childs pacifier.

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