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Baby Must-Haves: Pacifiers

Bling paciBabies are hardwired to suck -- and not just in order to eat. It soothes them, which is why so many pair a pacifier or thumb with a blankie or other lovey: The combo is comforting. Not all babies take to a pacifier, and those who do are often quite picky about their "plug"; they'll only accept a certain kind. So don't worry about getting your baby to take a pacifier or choosing the "right" one if she does. If you offer her a few, most likely she'll pick the one she likes -- or spit them all right out of her mouth.

That said, there's plenty of variety among pacifiers. Some features you'll find:

* Nipple material Pacifier nipples are made of either silicone or latex.

* Nipple shape Many pacifiers claim to be "orthodontic," meaning they won't interfere with the proper growth and development of a baby's mouth, teeth, or jaw. Gerber's NUK pacifiers ($4 for two) are a popular orthodontic paci.

* Nipple size Most pacifiers will be labeled according to age (for babies 0 to 6 month, 6 months and up, and so on.)

* Ventilation To cut down on irritation around the mouth (where saliva can gather under the sides of the pacifier), many feature holes or other openings.

* Style Pacifiers come in all sorts of colors and designs. One fun option: The fancy-looking Munchkin Bling pacifier ($5, above).

* Hospital "grade" The plain-Jane Soothie paci given to newborns in the hospital has something of cult following: Some babies won't take anything else ($5).

* Cover Some pacifiers come with a little plastic case, but we love the Keep-It-Kleen pacifier, which has shields that close over the nipple when it leaves the baby's mouth ($5).



I bought a dozen of my son's favorite pacifier (the NUK) and kept them everywhere -- in the diaper bag and the stroller, in every room of the house, in coat pockets, etc. That way I could always get my hands on one in a hurry.


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