December 5, 2011 | in Nanny
These handy little inventions have saved the sanity of many a parent, and have been the subject of fierce debate for generations. Depictions of early pacifiers are found in paintings from the early sixteenth century, with many experts insisting that they existed in some form much earlier, even. Here are some of the interesting facts about the origin and history of the pacifier.
- Some Early Models Contained Lead – Pacifiers in the early days of mass manufacturing were available in black, maroon or white rubber. Some did not have the safety shield feature to prevent choking, and the white rubber of that era contained lead.
- They Were Once Made of Coral – Between the seventeenth and nineteenth centuries in England, teething aids were called corals; most were made from the eponymous material, but some were made of ivory or bone.
- One Version Was Made of Cloth – Called a sugar-teat or sugar-rag, the cloth soother was widely used in America well into the nineteenth century and often made of linen with a measure of sugar securely knotted inside. Bowing to the folk wisdom of the day, the rags were often dipped in brandy or whiskey to ease teething pain.
- The Style We Recognize Dates From 1900 – Pacifiers began taking on the characteristics of their more modern brethren in the early part of the twentieth century. Sears Roebuck offered a “rubber teething ring” in their 1902 catalog that featured a nipple, shield and ring design similar to those in use today.
- Inspired By Rubber Teething Rings – The modern pacifier is a direct descendent from teething rings made of rubber; the “elastic gum rings” of nineteenth-century England were the inspiration behind the use of rubber to fashion nipples for feeding and comforting.
- Silver Spoons – The phrase “born with a silver spoon in his mouth” may very well have its origins in the high-society of the 1800′s. Well-to-do mothers of the period often allowed their babies to gnaw on the silver service to aid in teething. At the time, teething was believed to be a common cause of infant mortality.
- The French Banned Them – In 1926, France banned the sale of the sucette; deeming them dangerous and unsanitary.
- Freud Weighed in On the Debate – Sigmund Freud cited writings by a German pediatrician named Lindner, who believed that satisfying the suck reflex with a pacifier or thumb was inherently sexual. Freud identified this behavior as a definitive example of infant sexuality; as a result, pacifiers were briefly associated with “negative moral development.”
- The New York Times Denounced Them – In July of 1909, the New York Times published a letter to the editor decrying the use of pacifiers as un-hygienic and dangerous. This writer, calling themselves “Auntie Pacifier” blamed the use of pacifiers for dental deformities that could potentially lead to tuberculosis.
- “Binky” Isn’t Just A Nickname – Of the many nicknames for a pacifier, one of the most common is “binky.” That particular name is, however, the registered trademark of the Playtex corporation. Since the registering of Binky in 1935, several baby products have been sold under that particular brand; somehow, it became synonymous with “pacifier.”
The long and sometimes checkered history of the pacifier is made all the more interesting by the passionate arguments made by both supporters and detractors throughout the years. Whether you’re in favor of pacifier use or firmly against them, you must acknowledge that these fascinating little contraptions have definitely made their mark in baby culture.
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