WubbaNub® Warning: Tips for Safer Pacifier Use.

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You don’t have to scroll very far in your Facebook feed to find a photo of a contented young infant sucking on a WubbaNub®. These stuffed animals with attached Soothie® pacifier have slowly become synonymous with today’s experience of infancy.

Recently, however, I have had three different families share concerning stories about their beloved Wub. They each shared the experience of the WubbaNub® unexpectedly “breaking”, putting their child at risk of choking. Most concerning was one parent’s story of finding their sleeping child with the Soothie® nipple on one side of the crib and the stuffed animal on the other side.

These families admitted they were completely unaware of the potential risks of the WubbaNub® and Soothie® pacifiers in older infants. They were concerned that other families are also unaware of the use recommendations, potentially putting their infants in harms way; and I agree. Despite warning labels on the product packaging, I see many families in my office who are using the WubbaNub® far past recommended use.

Here are some reminders for safer WubbaNub® use:

1. The WubbaNub® should not be used after 6 months of age.This product is specifically designed for infants without teeth, as clearly labeled on the product packaging. Using the WubbaNub® after teeth begin to erupt creates a choking hazard because the attached Soothie® is not designed to withstand the friction and damage created by an infant’s teeth, potentially causing paci breakdown. When your baby gets teeth, it’s time to change to an age-appropriate orthodontic pacifier. These pacis for older infants are larger in size, have increased density, and a flatter shape that allows more natural teeth positioning. Unfortunately, the WubbaNub® does not make a 6mon+ product. For infants who have trouble transitioning, some families get help from a product like Paci-Plushies® that can attach to an age-appropriate orthodontic pacifier.

Got teeth? Use an orthodontic paci.
Got teeth? Use an orthodontic paci.

2. Think before you use the WubbaNub® for unobserved infant sleep. SIDS experts have criticized the WubbaNub®, stating that as a stuffed animal it does not conform to the AAPsSIDS-prevention guidelines. Although some would say this is a very conservative recommendation, they do have a point. Safest infant sleep areas should not include any loose blankets, thick bedding, crib bumpers, or stuffed animals. But here’s the WubbaNub® rub - it is also a pacifier, and pacifiers have been shown to decrease the incidence of SIDS. Although there has been no formal statement from the AAP regarding their opinion of this product, a better choice may be the Soothie® pacifier without the attached stuffed animal during extended overnight infant sleep. Keep the WubbaNub® handy for observed napping and awake sucking.

No bumpers, blankets, soft bedding, or stuffed animals.
No bumpers, blankets, soft bedding, or stuffed animals.

3. Get in the habit of routinely checking all pacifiers for tears and cracks. Some tears may not be visible until you twist and stretch the nipple. Be sure you stress the plastic in various ways by folding and bending the nipple to ensure it is intact. If the nipple is damaged, throw it out! Avent recommends that the Soothie® pacifier be replaced every 4 weeks.

Uh, oh. This Wub has to go!
Uh, oh. This Wub has to go!

Bottom line: The WubbaNub® with Soothie® pacifier is an option for infants who desire sucking and soothing. Check it often for cracks or tears. Consider other pacifier options for unobserved sleep. And when teeth show up, change to an age-appropriate orthodontic pacifier until you are ready to saybye-bye to the pacifor good.