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The Difference Between Latex & Silicone Pacifiers

by Leyla Norman

Pacifiers are more than just tools to help parents make it through the day. The American Academy of Pediatrics states they are not likely to cause damage to young babies' teeth, nor are babies who use them likely to lose interest in breastfeeding. The AAP also states that using a pacifier during sleep can help reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, or SIDS. The question for many parents becomes which kind to buy – silicone or latex.

Silicone

Silicone nipples in pacifiers are sturdier than latex. They are easier to clean and don’t trap odors. However, they are not as soft as latex nipples. Silicone pacifiers are not bite-resistant or nearly as flexible as latex. Consumer Reports recommends that parents purchase pacifiers made out of silicone instead of latex since some babies can develop sensitivity or an allergy to latex over time. Silicone pacifiers are not considered by many to be as safe as they used to be, according to Aha! Parenting, as they contain additives. Silicone does not age like latex, and it will stand up to your baby's tests of endurance.

Latex

Latex is softer, so it is more flexible. Latex pacifiers also need to be replaced more often because they wear out more quickly than silicone. If you know or suspect that your baby might be allergic to latex, purchase silicone pacifiers. According to MAMBaby.com, there is no scientific link between latex nipples and allergies. However, MedlinePlus states that latex can cause an allergic reaction within minutes in people sensitive to it, which can range from a rash to asthma to shock. Your baby is more likely to be allergic to latex if he has undergone many operations or medical treatments in which latex was used, according to BabyCenter.com. Latex pacifiers also leak carcinogens known as nitrosamines in low quantities, according to Aha! Parenting. Latex can also change shape if it is left in a hot area or in direct sunlight for a long time. Its orthodontic qualities can also change for the worse under these conditions, and they can get sticky with time.

Replacing and Cleaning

Your baby’s pacifier will get holes, tears, or weak areas that may be discolored when it is time to replace it. If pacifier pieces come off, your baby can choke. Be diligent about checking your child’s pacifiers regularly, and check latex nipples even more often since they do not last as long as silicone. Most latex pacifiers cannot be washed in the top rack of the dishwasher, unlike silicone pacifiers.

Alternative

If you are concerned about the additives or allergies pacifiers made of silicone or latex, consider purchasing a pacifier made without additives. Aha! Parenting notes that rubber pacifiers may be a safer alternative than either silicone or latex. While latex is a natural rubber, latex pacifiers contain materials that can harm your baby. Natursutten, Ecopacifer and Hevea are three companies that produce more natural pacifiers.

About the Author

Leyla Norman has been a writer since 2008 and is a certified English as a second language teacher. She also has a master's degree in development studies and a Bachelor of Arts in anthropology.

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