The Right Way To Clean Your Baby's Pacifier If It Falls On The Ground

Medical experts have long since advocated for the proper cleaning and sterilization of baby pacifiers in order to prevent germ-related illness. Popular suggested methods include thorough washing, a hot water boil, or sanitizing solutions (via Cleveland Clinic). However, research conducted in recent years suggests that an alternate method may provide better health benefits for children — and the findings may surprise you.

In a 2018 study conducted by the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology, a connection was found between mothers sucking on pacifiers before returning it to the baby, and the reduced chance of allergies developing in the child (via Science Daily). But wait, with all that bacteria in our mouths isn't that even dirtier than dropping it on the floor in the first place? Turns out, the bacteria may be exactly what's providing the health benefits. While our mouths aren't the most effective method for cleaning, it is an effective way of exposing the infant to micro-organisms that can strengthen their immune system (via Motherly).

Introducing infants to bacteria may boost their immune system

The findings of this study focused on the presence of immunoglubin E (IgE). IgE is defined as "an antibody that is produced by the body's immune system in response to a perceived threat" (via Lab Tests Online). When that perceived threat is an allergen, it's the IgE that can stimulate the allergic reaction. Of the 128 mothers studied, nine of them utilized the sucking method. The research found that those nine infants had notably lower levels of IgE before the age of one than the other babies.

It's important to note that even though a connection has been detected, medical experts do not believe this to be the exclusive cause of the reduced levels of IgE and these findings should not be treated as such. Further research is still needed to determine exactly how much parental pacifier sucking is directly related to the decreased IgE outcome and to rule out any other potential contributing factors. Pediatrician Jason Sherman, DO, eases concerns about dropped pacifiers by stating, "It's unlikely your baby will get seriously ill from a dirty pacifier" but goes on to advise, "You don't have to keep them in a bubble, but you should do your best to prevent them from getting sick."