The information and opinions on this blog come from parents, and the blog is not associated with Primary Children´s Medical Center or any other institution.


This site is specifically for parents of kids with clefts being treated at Primary Children's Medical Center in Salt Lake City, Utah, but I hope that there will be information that is helpful to all parents of kids with clefts. If you are just starting to learn about clefts, I would suggest starting with the "General Information" topic and going from there. To find information on a specific doctor or topic, click on one of the links on the right. You can also search the blog using the box below the topic list. If you have information or experiences to share, please leave comments or contact me to do a guest post at Thanks for visiting!

Sunday, January 10, 2010


Facing a new baby without the help of a binkie can be a daunting thought, particularly, it seems, for those who have relied on them with previous babies (I'm only on my first, so I wouldn't know, but I had the feeling that it wasn't quite so bad since I didn't know what I was missing...). It seems like a lot of parents have questions right away about pacifiers, including:

1. Will my baby be able to use a pacifier at all?
2. Can my baby have a pacifier after surgery?
3. What pacifiers work best for cleft babies?

I'll share what I know, then include a few other parent comments on the topic.

1. Will my baby be able to use a pacifier?

From my experience, this is another "it depends" answer (fully unsatisfying, I know). Babies with clefts generally don't have good suction or lip closure, so they have trouble keeping a pacifier in without help. However, after the lip repair, babies can often take a pacifier and keep it in reasonable well (though you may have to try a few different kinds to find what works best for your little one). Lots of babies with clefts love the binkie.

2. Can my baby have a pacifier after surgery?

Again, it depends on your doctor and on which surgery. Here is my experience:

Dr. Morales was our surgeon, and after the first surgery to put in the prosthesis, he said he didn't have a problem with us using the pacifier occasionally. We weren't sure if it would be allowed, so we tried to use it only if we were out in public where we needed our little guy to stay quiet (and, to be honest, to cover up his cleft if I wasn't up to having people stare) in the hopes that he wouldn't get hooked on it. So I'm not sure how Dr. Morales would feel about heavy usage just after surgery, but it wasn't out of the question at any rate.

After the lip repair, we weren't allowed to use the pacifier for about a month (with good reason; I'd have been afraid to use it!). However, at the one month check-up, Dr. Morales actually encouraged using a pacifier because he said the plastic phlange on the pacifier would massage the scars and help stretch them out. So after that we did some binkie shopping and our little guy was hooked until his next surgery.

After the soft palate repair I think we could have gone back to the pacifier after a short time, but our little man wanted nothing to do with it. I tried lots of times over the ensuing months, but he wouldn't have it. And I've heard of other kids that just didn't want anything in their mouth after surgeries.

3. What pacifiers work best?

As with most baby products, this differs with each baby. Here are some things that I have heard/found:
  • Some people like the Soothie pacifiers because they are all one piece, which helps some kids get more suction on them. I found them impossible to keep in, and friend told me they were designed so that babies can't keep them in. Confusing! Since these are the ones they usually give out at hospitals, you will probably end up with at least one free one that you can try out on your baby
  • Others like "Wubbanubs," which is basically a soothie pacifier sewn onto a little stuffed animal so that the baby can hold it in more easily. Here is a link to the site (though they would be really easy to make, and much cheaper!). You could use this idea with other pacifier brands, too.
  • Someone suggested getting pacifiers for older babies, since they are bigger and thus easier to hold in. My little guy didn't go for it (too much of a mouthful?) but I know others have.
  • What worked for me were the Playtex orthodontic pacifiers with the curvy neck. Since the neck was long, the baby could close his lips around it and hold it in. He got fairly good at it after a while.
Any other suggestions or thoughts? I'll be glad to add them!

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