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Baby in mother's arms with blue pacifier in mouth

The Strange History of Pacifiers

For thousands of years, babies have either pilfered or been proffered objects they can stick in their mouths. Any object, really, if it allowed them to satiate their sucking reflex. And throughout history, those objects have ranged from superstitious to weird to downright dangerous – all leading up to the smart, safe pacifiers of our age.

Let’s take a gander at the strange past of pacifiers and how we got to where we are today.

The First Known Pacifiers

Technically, the first pacifier baby ever used was his own hand. We just didn’t know it until the advent of imaging technology that allowed us to see our babies before they were born. Now, ultrasounds abound showing baby sucking his fingers, building the adaptive reflexes that will help him survive when he enters this world.

While literature from the 2nd and 4th centuries tell of soothing methods, the oldest known paci found was during an archeological dig of a 3,000 year-old site in Italy. It told us that parents gave their wee one small, clay objects shaped like pigs or frogs, featuring a hole in the mouth from which baby could suck honey or sugar. Probably not recommended by the dentist.

In fact, many of the subsequent pacifiers wouldn’t top the recommendation lists by dental professionals these days. Over the centuries, pacifiers have been carved from a wide array of metals – ouch – like gold, silver, or even pearl. If you weren’t very wealthy, wood and bone pacifiers were the best options. Some pacifiers pulled double duty, acting as teethers and barrier to evil spirits. Depending on the teething stage, parents of the time may have simply mistaken their child for a drooling demon. From time to time, babies were given tied fabric stuffed with food – that was then soaked in brandy. Yikes.

Turn of the 19th Century

As manufacturing became prevalent, so, too, did the ability to create pacifiers from raw materials. Rubber was a popular option, though the smell, taste, and look of it weren’t ideal for a lot of parents. Then there was the whole issue of sulfuric and lead-based additives that were eventually removed from the creation process.

The pacifiers of the time were redesigned with a shield, nipple, and the “ring” or handle – and this is finally when they started to resemble the pacifiers of today.

But they still had a long way to go to improve. It wasn’t until the 1980’s that dental issues were addressed in the design of pacifiers to lower the chance of long-term oral issues from pacifier use. Fast forward a couple more decades, and Dr. Brown’s enters the scene.

Dr. Brown’s Pacifiers Are No Dummies

Around 2010, Dr. Brown’s got together with pediatric dentist John Davis who designed a pacifier that offered parents peace of mind and soothed baby – a pacifier, also called a dummy, that’s actually no dummy at all. Together, Dr. Brown’s and Dr. Davis developed a really smart pacifier, in design, engineering, and price.

4-Pack Advantage Pacifiers w/ Airplanes, Product

PreVent™ Pacifiers

PreVent pacifiers are aptly named because they help prevent dental issues such as cross bite. With the patented Suction-Free Air Channel, pressure on baby’s palate is reduced, and alongside the thin-stem design, is minimally intrusive in baby’s mouth. They come in so many sizes and styles that are both cute and practical. Like the Glow-In-The-Dark PreVent Pacifier that’s easy to find at night and is recharged by the next day’s light. Or the Contoured Shield PreVent Pacifier, featuring a butterfly-shaped shield that curves away from little noses and cheeks to limit irritation. Adorable animal faces, fun shapes and cute colors decorate all PreVent Pacifiers, which, let’s be honest, is more for mom and dad than baby. The different sizes are designed specifically for different sized mouths and palates, starting out small and getting a bit bigger as baby does, too.

HappyPaci™ Silicone Pacifiers, Product


One of our newer pacifier styles, the HappyPaci, offers baby a good chance at accepting its nipple, as it’s shaped exactly like Dr. Brown’s bottle nipples. The one-piece design was made in response to parents’ wishes and has a contoured shield that provides plenty of room so baby can use it comfortably. You can get HappyPaci by itself or it comes with a pal, our Lovey Pacifier & Teether holder. That’s soothing care and soft, loveable comfort in one package – plus it holds the pacifier or teether close, making sure it doesn’t get far from baby’s side.

Both the PreVent Pacifier and HappyPaci are dishwasher and sterilizer safe, so you can easily keep them clean.

We don’t know about you, but we feel pretty lucky to have access to smart, safe pacifiers of today’s age rather than the questionable, worrisome, or downright scary devices of the past. So, if you’re looking for a smart “dummy,” peruse Dr. Brown’s website for more information and to purchase the PreVent Pacifier or HappyPaci for your wee one.

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