Pacifiers can be a godsend for some moms and babies, and they’re typically considered a safe way to keep a baby soothed and, well, pacified. But one mom got the scare of a lifetime when she heard her son gurgling and gasping for air in another room. She ran in only to find that the pacifier her son was using had broken off — and was lodged in the baby’s throat.
It would be one thing if this was an isolated, albeit terrifying, incident. Unfortunately that’s not the case. Kacie McFadden, the North Carolina mom who shared her story on Facebook, says that this is the second time she’s had to save her baby’s life. The culprit? Pacifiers from popular manufacturer MAM. Take a look at the busted paci in the video below:
That’s pretty scary. Fortunately McFadden’s quick thinking likely saved her child’s life. The first time it happened, when little Ryder was just 2 months old, she was able to perform the Heimlich maneuver, dislodging the pacifier and letting air back into her son’s lungs before tragedy could strike.
A call to MAM got the mom a lot of apologies and a brand-new pacifier, but when the same thing happened just two months later — the nipple came away from the base and got stuck in her baby’s throat — she understandably decided to be done with the company. And she wants other parents to know how pacifiers can be dangerous, especially if the nipple is so easily dislodged.
And apparently this isn’t just a case of one woman having terrible luck. A quick search of complaints lodged with the Consumer Product Safety Commission shows similar issues with MAM’s pacifiers, where the nipple is torn or removed from the pacifier base, posing an aspiration hazard. Each is responded to with an identical form response from the company:
At MAM, safety is our top priority. We take exceptional care in our product design to ensure all MAM products meet or exceed all CPSC requirements. Included in those requirements for pacifiers are dimensions for the shield and dimensions and location of ventilation holes for the shield. We appreciate all consumers who contact us, as it gives us the opportunity to address any concerns, and gain feedback on our products. Consumers can call us toll free at 866-949-1174.
But it isn’t just MAM that has had complaints in the past. There’s a whole slew of complaints about all kinds of pacifiers, and another common issue seems to be that the pacifiers are somehow able to fit entirely inside a child’s mouth, something they aren’t supposed to be able to do.
Here’s one from a mother describing exactly that about a different brand of pacifier:
“My 4 month old son was sucking on the Ulubulu ‘Little Man’ pacifier. He opened his mouth and the base became lodged in his mouth sideways causing scraping and bleeding to the roof of his mouth and lower guns where he has 2 teeth coming in. It was difficult to remove because his reaction was to clamp down which caused more pain.”
And another complaint that describes a scary incident where a plastic bit on a pacifier was able to poke through the soft silicone and pose both choking and laceration hazards to the 2-month-old using it:
“The consumer states the part of the pacifier that goes inside the mouth of a baby has a plastic piece and it protruded through the silicon material. On 01/25/15 the consumer found pieces of silicon in her son’s mouth.” The report goes on to say, “On 04/13/15 the consumer noticed that the plastic piece on the 3rd replacement pacifier had cut her son on the cheek.”
On its own, it isn’t a dangerous piece of baby gear. In fact, it’s been suggested that pacifier use could reduce a child’s risk of SIDS. But it’s important for moms and dads to know what to look for when it comes to pacifier safety. There are a number of little tests you can do and steps you can take to make sure your baby’s pacifier is up to snuff and safe to use:
- Where possible, try to purchase pacifiers that are made of one piece of molded silicone as opposed to having multiple plastic and rubbery pieces. This will reduce the risk of it coming apart and posing a choking hazard.
- If you do have a multi-component pacifier, do the “tug test.” Grab the nipple firmly, and pull it away from the base. If it pops off or tears, toss it. It’s a good idea to perform this test with any pacifier before each use. Any signs of discoloration, wear or weakness means it’s time for a new one.
- Make sure you’re getting a pacifier that’s up to code. An infant pacifier’s base or shield must measure at least 1-1/2 inches across to avoid choking.
- Keep pacifiers clean by washing them in a water-and-baking soda solution.
- Stay up-to-date on pacifier recalls and reports, and make your own if you notice a problem.
What likely saved Ryder’s life in this instance was his mom’s ability to think quickly and the fact that she knew how to perform the Heimlich maneuver on her son. If you haven’t yet, make sure you learn how to perform both the lifesaving maneuver on children as well as CPR.
What makes all of this particularly concerning is that you just expect products for infants and babies to meet the very highest standards of safety. A pacifier in particular is one of those items you just assume will be beyond reproach, since babies start using them from birth.
Let’s hope the manufacturers sit up and take notice. It’s just too important not to.