A Soothing History of Pacifiers

If you've ever wondered about the history of pacifiers, read below for a brief, informative background on pacifiers and how they came to be.

Where do pacifiers come from? How are pacifiers made? Come to think of it, what did babies do to satisfy their natural urge to suckle before pacifiers were widely available products for parents practically everywhere?

It might be hard for a parent living in today’s world – filled with conveniences like online shopping, Amazon Prime, and tons of pacifier options – to imagine life without pacifiers readily available for their little one. Here’s a brief rundown of the history of pacifiers:

When Were Pacifiers Invented?

Pacifiers were invented in the early 20th century. The modern version of the pacifier was patented in 1901 in Manhattan. The original pacifier had a nipple made of natural rubber (sometimes called “India rubber”) attached to a disk-shaped shield that prevented it from being swallowed. In 1902, Sears Robuck & Co. began advertising a pacifier product that they described as a “new style rubber teething ring.” The first pacifiers were usually made from natural rubber.

Who Invented the Pacifier?

Pacifiers were invented by Christian W. Meinecke, a pharmacist living in Manhattan. In 1901, Meinecke applied for a patent for the first modern pacifier, calling it a “baby comforter.” Little is known about him except that he patented many medical devices with somewhat off-putting names, like the “sputum cup and holder.”

Pacifiers Through the Ages

Objects similar to pacifiers have been used for centuries. Some cultures gave babies toys for teething and comfort made of wood, stone, ivory, bone, or even coral. Later iterations of these toys were comprised of things like silver, gold, gourds, corn cobs, sugar canes, or small linen pouches filled with sugar. These were sometimes soaked or coated in water, brandy, or honey.

In the mid-nineteenth century, “elastic teething rings” made of rubber were sold to British families as teething toys for babies. Less than a century later, the first modern pacifiers – the ones you would likely recognize today – were created and sold in the United States. Over time, and as more research became available, pacifier designs have improved significantly.

Alternate Names

Paci, binky, dummy – You may know some or all of these names, but pacifiers have been called many things over the years.

The exact origin of the name “pacifier” is unclear, but it may have come from the first baby comforters, which were sold in the U.S. as “pacifiers.” In Canada and Britain, pacifiers are also commonly called “dummies.” This may have originated from an article published in 1915 in The British Journal of Nursing Supplement, in which a British doctor referred to pacifiers as “dummy teats.” Additionally, the term “binky” caught on in the 1940s when pacifiers made by Binky Baby Products of New York became so ubiquitous that their company’s name became an informal term for the product.

Ready to learn all about Medela Baby pacifiers, so you can make an informed decision around your baby’s pacifier use? See our Ultimate Pacifier Guide for all the information you need!

Related Products