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The History of Pacifiers

Objects similar to pacifiers have been used by parents to soothe their little ones for centuries. Early teething toys were made from wood, stone, ivory, bone, or coral. Later, teething toys made from silver, gold, gourds, corn cobs, sugar canes, and small linen pouches filled with sugar were used. Some were even soaked in water, brandy, or honey. In the mid-19th century, elastic teething rings made of rubber were popular in Britain. But the modern pacifier was not invented until 1901, when Christian W. Meinecke, a Manhattan pharmacist, applied for a patent for his “baby comforter.” Considered the first modern pacifier, Meinecke’s invention featured a nipple made from natural rubber attached to a disk-shaped shield that kept it from being swallowed. In 1902, Sears Robuck & Co. began to advertise a pacifier product that they called “a new style rubber teething ring.” Over time, pacifier designs improved and morphed into the modern iterations available on the market today. But what about the name? It’s thought that the term “pacifier” originated with the first baby comforters, which were often sold in the U.S. as “pacifiers.” In Canada and Britain, they are often called “dummies,” perhaps due to a 1915 article published in The British Journal of Nursing Supplement in which a British doctor referred to pacifiers as “dummy teats.” Binky is yet another popular term for pacifiers, particularly in the United States. It caught on in the 1940s when pacifiers made by Binky Baby Products of New York became so ubiquitous that the company’s name became synonymous with the product itself. Today, pacifiers are still used by many families.

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