Study Says Sucking Your Baby’s Pacifier Can Protect Them From Allergies

We have questions.

By: Amanda Mushro
Funny young man with big eyes and pacifier in his mouth staring at camera while standing against white background


Funny young man with big eyes and pacifier in his mouth staring at camera while standing against white background

Photo by: g-stockstudio


If your baby’s pacifier hits the floor and you’ve popped it into your mouth to quickly clean it off — good for you, mama, because your mom hack to clean off your baby’s pacifier could apparently also help protect your little one from developing allergies and asthma.

According to a new study by the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, babies whose mothers said they sucked on their infant’s pacifier actually had lower levels of allergy-causing antibodies. Researchers say this study adds to evidence that a little dirt is actually good for our kids.

"The idea is that the microbes you're exposed to in infancy can affect your immune system's development later on in life," said Dr. Eliane Abou-Jaoude, a co-author of the study. “Although we can’t say there’s a cause and effect relationship, we can say the microbes a child is exposed to early on in life will affect their immune system development.”

For the study, researchers interviewed 128 moms about how they cleaned their babies' pacifiers. The moms reported that 72 percent wash the pacifiers by hand, 41 percent say they sterilized, and 12 percent said spit-cleaned their baby’s beloved pacifier. Turns out, the babies whose mothers spit-cleaned pacifiers had lower levels of IgE, which is an antibody associated with allergic responses. The study says elevated IgE levels typically indicate a higher risk of having allergies and allergic asthma as the baby ages.

"From our data, we can tell that the children whose pacifiers were cleaned by their parents sucking on the pacifier, those children had lower IgE levels around 10 months of age through 18 months of age," Dr. Abou-Jaoude added.

While researchers would like to continue their study on this topic, they believe spreading the germs from a parent's mouth is a way to boost their child's immune system. Of course we don’t want to try this when we are feeling sick — especially during cold and flu season.

As a mom who had a pacifier-loving baby, sometimes I needed to improvise the cleaning of her paci. Especially if a meltdown was about to happen because my daughter wanted her pacifier and she wanted it now. She’s a pretty healthy kid with no allergies or asthma, and after reading this study I may just call this one a parenting win for myself.

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