As a parent of two little ones, I know firsthand how frustrating it can be when you finally get your baby to fall asleep, only to have them start wailing 20 minutes later because their pacifier fell out of the crib. You rush in hoping they’ll soothe themselves back to sleep, but no such luck. Before you know it they’re wide awake and you’re up for another hour or more calming them down.
I’ve definitely spent my fair share of nights trying to figure out how to keep pacifiers from falling out of crib, searching for dropped soothers and trying to MacGyver ways to keep them in my daughters’ mouths. Through trial and error (so many errors!), I learned a few handy tricks for securing pacifiers in cribs. In this post I’ll share what worked for us so you and your baby can get some better shut-eye.
Why It’s Important to Keep Pacifiers in the Crib
Losing pacifiers overnight causes a whole cascade of problems beyond just a crying baby. For my family, it meant:
- Baby wakes up fully and stays up for 1-2 hours
- Cranky, overtired baby and parents the next day
- Difficulty soothing baby back into deeper sleep cycles
- Parents lose out on sleep (so unfair!)
Even using sleep training techniques like Ferberizing or cry it out, a lost paci throws everything out of whack. Babies use pacifiers to self-soothe as they transition between sleep cycles. Without them, they fully rouse and have a harder time falling back asleep.
By keeping spare soothers easily accessible in the crib, you prevent middle-of-the-night meltdowns while teaching self-settling skills. Win-win!
Now let’s get into those genius pacifier hacks…
Choose the Right Pacifier
Believe it or not, the shape, size, and design of a pacifier all affect how likely it is to drop out of your snoozing baby’s mouth. After many, many lost pacies, here are my top recommendations:
Look for an angled pacifier that sits at a 45-60 degree angle in baby’s mouth. Unlike straight designs, angled ones nestle in the mouth nicely and don’t slide out as easily. My top pick is the
Avoid large, heavy pacifiers. Lightweight designs made of silicon or latex move with your baby so they stay in even if baby is active in sleep. MAM pacifiers are great for this.
Ditch the handles. While they make pacifiers easy for little hands to grab, the handle is also easy to catch on sheets and blankets which may loosen or remove it entirely.
Go for single piece pacifier construction without connectors that can come apart between nursing pieces. Fewer parts means less pieces getting lost!
Pay attention to nipple shape. Rounded nipples stay centered in baby’s mouths better than elongated “orthodontic” shapes.
By selecting pacifiers designed specifically to avoid drop-out, you’ll cut down on nighttime hunts considerably.
Next Steps: Take stock of pacifiers you already own and consider purchasing 1-2 recommended options to have on hand as backup. Mark pacifiers with colored nail polish so you can easily tell which is which in the dark!
|Nests in mouth, hard to fall out
|Cost more, takes time to get used to
|Natural fit, easy to find options
|Not as secure, can slide out
|Promotes dental development
|Easily ejected out of mouth
Get the Right Pacifier Size & Fit
Along with shape and style, sizing the pacifier properly to fit baby’s mouth is crucial. Too small and it’ll choke them. Too large and it can easily slip out, defeating the whole purpose!
Here are some tips for picking the right size:
- Consult pacifier packaging for age-specific sizing info. Newborns = smaller.
- Ensure the nipple width allows baby’s mouth to close around it completely. You want a tight seal with a bit of suction.
- Watch that baby’s mouth isn’t stretched wide. Skin should contact much of the shield or guard.
- Size up if baby is teething or you notice marks/irritation around the mouth.
I made the mistake of continuing to use newborn size pacifiers too long with my second daughter. Once I sized up to the 0-6 month ones it made a huge difference in how securely they stayed in through the night. Don’t be afraid to go larger earlier than you think. Safety-wise doctors recommend stopping pacifier use around age 4 anyway as baby teeth come in.
As your little one grows, pay attention and adjust pacifier sizes over time. You shouldn’t need to replace pacifiers more than every 3 or so months.
Next Steps: Check pacifier box for size guidance and monitor fit. Buy next size up if current ones are getting snug or leaving marks.
Use Pacifier Clips and Connectors
Personally I think pacifier clips are absolute magic! These clever contraptions attach your baby’s pacifier to their clothing or crib so when those little hands knock one loose, it only drops as far as the clip’s tether.
There are a few varieties that all work nicely:
- Safety pacifier clips – Typically made of ribbon, these have a clasp on one end that attaches to baby’s shirt collar. The other end has a loop that holds the pacifier ring.
- Toy clip holders – Stuffed animals like bears or rabbits that have a clip on the end you thread through the pacifier then attach to pjs.
- Pacifier pull cords – Usually a plastic bead ring that slides onto the pacifier handle with a fabric tether that ties to the crib rails.
I’ve had the best luck with safety clips on my kids’ footed pajamas. During summer, crib-attached pull cords are handy too.
Some benefits of pacifier clips:
- Allow babies to self-soothe when pacifier gets spit out
- Reduce frustration from losing pacifiers under blankets
- Easy to quickly reinsert pacifiers at night without fully waking
- Lets you relax knowing pacifier can’t fall far
Pacifier clips are usually designed to detach for safety if over-pulled or during diaper changes. I also recommend removing from clothing before placing babies into carseats or strollers.
Next steps: Purchase a 2 pack of safety pacifier clips and attach them to baby’s nighttime footed pajamas. Try out a crib pacifier pull cord for backup!
Strategically Place Pacifiers in Crib
Assuming you don’t want to hold your little angel’s paci in place all night long, strategic placement inside the crib can help stave off wayward pacifiers.
I found the most success keeping pacifiers:
- Within easy reaching distance on either side for self-soothing at various sleeping positions.
- Secured under the ribbed edge of wearable blankets, swaddle wraps etc. The ridges help hold it slightly snug.
- Tucked into sleep positioners like nests, docks or pads. Just verify products are safety-tested first.
- Attached to crib attachments like mobiles or soft toys above the mattress for easy access.
I don’t recommend resting pacifiers loose on top of blankets or sheets that can shift. And never secure pacifiers with loose strings, ribbons, elastics etc due to safety risks.
Finding the pacifier “sweet spot” might take some trial and error. I rediscovered many lost pacis along the perimeter of my kids’ crib at odd hours! But once you get placement figured out it makes nighttime much calmer.
Next Steps: Observe where baby drops or loses pacifiers most then position extras nearby for easy self-access. Test different locations to optimize based on sleep habits.
Add Pacifiers Back In Without Fully Waking
Sometimes despite your best efforts, pacifiers still fall completely out of reach. When this happens try these gentle techniques to add pacifiers back without fully waking baby:
- Pick up and soothe baby just enough to drowsily suck, don’t overstimulate
- Slip pacifier into side of mouth then slowly withdraw your hand so they latch on
- Lightly stroke baby’s cheek nearest pacifier to promote sucking motion
- Don’t remove pacifier once latched even if the positioning looks uncomfortable
- Avoid prolonged eye contact, chatter or turning lights on
- Have multiple pacifiers handy to swap out if needed
I know it’s hard not to scoop a crying baby up for full comforting. But keeping rousing to a minimum helps them settle faster.
Once my second could reliably find and grab dropped pacifiers, these steps helped her latch on without fully waking herself or me up hallelujah!
Next Steps: Practice stealth pacifier reinsertion techniques during middle of night stirrings before crying escalates.
Offer Multiple Pacifiers
Babies sure seem to excel at the whole object permanence thing when it comes to losing their pacifiers!
To help short circuit frantic searching, I learned to keep 4-5 pacifiers in my daughters’ crib at all times. That way there was always a backup within arm’s reach.
I typically used a combo of pacifier clips plus 1-2 loose extras for redundancy. Some other tips:
- Use pacifier pod containers attached inside the crib to hold a few soothers easily accessible.
- Make one pacifier “glow in the dark” for easy nighttime identifying
- Have designated “sleep pacifiers” vs daytime ones to avoid losing all your pacies. Use cheap bulk packs if needed.
- Store extra pacifiers in mesh crib bags, pillowcases or open cloth bins for breathability.
While multiplying pacifiers risks dependency, when used for short term soothing it’s an easy win. As babies get older and need them less, you can gradually reduce down to just one.
Next Steps: Buy 4-5 additional pacifiers and set up stations throughout the crib for easy access during the night.
Consider “Pacifier Pets” With Stuffies or Toys
Along the same lines as pacifier clips, another handy invention I came across are pacifiers attached to small plush toys or “pacifier pets.” Companies like Sandi-Mae make cute little bears, bunnies, whales etc designed specifically for this purpose.
Benefits of stuffed animal pacifiers:
- Difficult to fully lose outside the crib since connected
- Babies less likely to reject pacifiers paired with lovies
- Adorable photo ops! (Let’s be real here)
- Associating positive feelings with their comfort companions
- Loveys remain safe in crib without loose parts
I will say, sometimes the attached lovies felt a bit bulky and got in the way of my kids’ sleep positioning. So I mainly used them for naptimes or quiet play. But they can be great transitional objects, moving from nursing to bottle/paci soothing with the help of a snuggly friend.
If shopping stuffed animal pacis, prioritize ones made of breathable natural fabrics without buttons, plastic eyes etc that could pose safety risks.
Next Steps: Pick up a Super Satie or Taglet pacifier buddy to trial for nap routines. See if having a companion helps extend pacifier duration.
Keep Pacifiers Within Reach
You’ve probably noticed when your pacifier-addicted baby first starts stirring in the crib, they instinctively try grasping around for their trusty soother. Keeping pacifiers within easy reaching distance makes it more likely babies soothe themselves back to sleep.
Here are a few tips:
- Place 2-3 pacifiers near left and right sides of mattress for accessibility at various sleep positions
- Position pacifiers sticking out of blanket folds or just barely tucked under edges
- Try attaching pacifiers upright on mobiles or soft crib toys hanging from rails
- Use pacifier pods with openings facing down right above baby’s torso
- Set up pacifier pull cords allowing paci to dangle mid-chest level
I liked keeping extras very deliberately positioned right where I noticed my girls groping in the middle of the night. Having that paci payoff reinforced reaching behavior until it became habit!
The goal is making it effortless for a half-asleep baby to grab and replace their pacifier multiple times a night (the dream right??). With a system in place, many can self-soothe for longer stretches without waking parents for help.
Next Steps: Observe where baby naturally searches for lost pacifiers and stash some to be conveniently found there later on.
Check on Your Baby Frequently
Even after optimizing everything above, pacifiers may still escape now and then. As part of your general nighttime routine with baby, check on them frequently and assess pacifier status while you’re at it.
Some signs it may be MIA:
- Baby stirring more than normal
- Increased sucking sounds
- Frustration/escalation if self-soothing efforts fail
If I heard fussing and suspected a dropped paci, I’d subtly peek in and rectify, avoiding stimulating interaction. With pacifier problems nipped in the bud (pun intended), baby settled quicker.
As your child gets older and dependencies decrease, checking on them can also provide opportunities to remove pacifiers altogether to help wean night usage. Around 4-6 months is a good window for sleep training without pacifiers for many babies.
Frequent checks reassure you baby is safe while letting you actively preserve their sleep by tackling issues proactively. Win win!
Next Steps: Incorporate quick pacifier checks into existing night feeding schedules or timed check-ins. Consider weaning opportunities for 4+ month olds.
Wean Off Night Pacifiers Over Time
While I firmly believe pacifiers play an important role helping infants and young babies self-soothe to sleep, there does come a point where night pacifier use should taper off. Legitimate dental and speech development concerns arise from overuse extending into toddlerhood and preschool ages.
Here are some night weaning tips many moms have success with:
- Pick a dedicated cut out time like right after turning 1 year old. Avoid stressful times like moving or new siblings.
- Skip replacing pacifiers after midnight to reduce nocturnal dependency.
- Go cold turkey and refuse replacing lost pacifiers for a week+. Prepare for some very long nights unfortunately!
- Take small steps first like removing 1-2 pacifiers out of the crib every couple nights.
- Present alternatives like soft nighttime loveys, teethers or books to help the transition away from pacifier soothing.
You’ll likely deal with more frequent night wakings, extended bedtime battles and general crabbiness as you cut out this sleep crutch. But within a couple weeks most babies adjust and transition to new self-comforting skills like thumb sucking.
Be patient, consistent and offer lots of extra daytime cuddles! The short term struggle leads to long term improved sleep for everyone.
Next Steps: Pick a target pacifier weaning date and adopt a gradual stepping down plan removing pacifiers over a 2-4 week span.
|Pacifier Weaning Plan
|Remove pacifiers after first night waking
|Only allow pacifiers until midnight
|Replace pacifier fallen out once per night
|No replacing fallen out pacifiers
|Remove all pacifiers from bedtime routine
Last Resort Crib Modifications
Alright, if your little escape artist defeats all other methods, these semi-extreme (but safe) crib hacks can help contain rogue pacifiers at night. When my first was teething badly, these got us through some tough times!
- Use mesh crib tent canopies to keep pacifiers corralled even if spat forcefully out.
- Securely tie large open weave textured fabrics to crib slats that allow airflow but catch projectiles.
- Install crib toy bars with lots of dangling toys/soft shapes that pacifiers knock into.
- Layer cribs with breathable mesh liners or tightly woven crib sheets that resist wayward items rolling out.
I’ll be honest – crib tents created a few scary wall climbing attempts once my oldest could pull to stand. And thick crib liners made me nervous about potential suffocation risks.
So exhausted parents, please carefully weigh safety considerations before rigging up any elaborate pacifier containment systems! Starting such hacks too early or continuing too long may backfire safety-wise.
In my experience, most of the other tips usually do the trick preventingPacifiers from falling out of crib long before you need to go to crib modification extremes. But for especially adventurous kiddos, sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do for everyone’s sanity!
Next Steps: Only attempt crib modifications as a truly last resort with mobile infants and toddlers. Prioritize safe sleep guidelines first and transition away from pacifiers instead if possible.
Whew, I know that was a whole lot of pacifier advice to digest! If you take away anything here, focus on optimizing position, fit and redundancy using clips, holders and extras to minimize lost pacifiers in cribs.
Teaching self-soothing when pacifiers do fall out is also crucial for developing independence and ability to self-settle as your baby grows. You want to strike a tricky balance between keeping soothing aids accessible while not creating too much dependency. Easier said than done for sure!
Hopefully these collected tips spare you just a fraction of the frustration I endured over 2+ years of pacifier trials. Those early months of snatches sleep are so precious
FAQ – How to Keep Pacifiers from Falling Out of Crib
How do I know if my baby’s pacifier is the right size?
A: Check the pacifier’s packaging for the recommended age range and weight minimums to ensure appropriate nipple sizing. When inserted in baby’s mouth, the pacifier shield should touch the lips without significantly stretching them. The nipple width should allow the mouth to close around it completely with a tight seal. If you see red marks or irritation around their lips, size up to a larger pacifier suitable for older babies.
Are pacifier clips safe for my baby to sleep with overnight?
Branded pacifier clips sold specifically as safety clips are generally considered safe for sleep when attached properly to clothing only. They are designed to detach from both ends if pulled on excessively. Avoid any improvised strings, ribbons or cords which pose greater strangulation risks. Only use pacifier clips until your baby is actively rolling over and pulling up on furniture to prevent entanglement dangers as mobility increases.
How many backup pacifiers should I keep in the crib?
A good rule of thumb is to have 4-5 total pacifiers in your baby’s crib at all times. This guarantees at least 1-2 are within easy reach if one gets knocked out overnight. Too many may encourage unnecessary pacifier swapping out of boredom rather than for soothing. Use pacifier pod cases attached inside the crib to corral extras if needed. Just ensure any containers have air holes and open access for safety.
At what age should my baby stop needing a pacifier at night?
Most sleep experts recommend actively weaning babies off nighttime pacifier use between ages 6 months to a year. Extended use past a year can impact dental formation and speech development. Waiting too long breeds dependency which becomes harder to break. Create a stepped, consistent pacifier removal plan customized to your baby’s self-soothing abilities and sleep schedule.
What pacifier alternatives can help my toddler self-soothe without one?
Some items that make effective pacifier substitutes include small plush toys or special loveys, soft books made of fabric, chewy/textured silicone teethers or pendants, white noise stuffed animals, and toddler pillows for comfort. Offering water throughout the night can also minimize awakenings. Introduce potential replacement items incrementally ahead of complete pacifier weaning to ease the transition away from the soothing sucking motion.