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Thursday, June 18, 2015

Pacifier Cleaning (or Dirtying) & the Swedish Study


According to a study, the way we clean pacifiers could affect our kids' immune systems

Before being a parent, I'd always wondered why people boiled baby stuff. Why not just clean it with hot soapy water and good old friction?

Now that we have little baby dude (LBD) I have a different perspective. I want his stuff to be clean. If we're out and his toy falls on the floor, I put it away until it's washed. When he bit his gum on a plastic rattle and bled on his soft kitty rattle, I washed them both. (with hot soapy water and friction)

Since I didn't think I'd ever want to use pacifiers (worried choosing passy over breastfeeding, nipple confusion, and that he'd keep it in forever) I didn't ever consider how to clean them.

The first time his pacifier ever fell out of his mouth I had a dilemma. We have silicone pacifiers so they can be boiled, but I really felt inclined to just rinse it off and give it back to him. We were home and it didn't seem like it was really all that dirty. (by the way, the 5 second rule has some validity but has been pretty much debunked. Gross facts lurk in the google results :p )

I looked up pacifiers and cleaning and found a swedish study which showed that licking the pacifier clean transmits germs to babies that seem to help prevent allergies.

Here's a quote:
"Those whose parents sucked the pacifiers clean were significantly less likely to have developed eczema at 18 and 36 months and less likely to have developed asthma at 18 months, the researchers say."
NPR wrote up the story in 2013. Here's a link.

Or you can search these terms: "pacifier swedish study lick," and get great results.

So now when our baby's pacifier falls, or when it's linty from a bag we put it in, I'm pretty likely to lick it. However, now that I've read that the 5 second rule is debunked, I'm not going to lick it if it falls on the floor! Ew.

LBD doesn't have teeth yet so I'm not too worried about the bacteria causing tooth decay... even though the American Dental Association says the Streptococcus mutans bacteria can be transferred and cause dental caries.

I'm much more concerned about sugar consumption, handwashing after trips to bathrooms, hormones & antibiotics in our food supply... He's going to be exposed to our spit here and there, most likely. I've seen kids pick up all sorts of things and put them in their mouths, and he puts his fingers in ours. (I do NOT encourage this. It just happens!)

It seems unavoidable that children are exposed to their parents' bacteria, and frankly, to me it seems most natural. Perhaps this is exactly how it is meant to be. I think this study brings us a little closer to understanding a healthy dynamic of germ-sharing and how living too clean may not help our immune systems.

Oh, and if you love it, you can buy the pacifier pictured above at Here's the link. I don't endorse it, I just loved the picture and want to give them credit. :D

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