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

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