Department of Special Education and Communication Disorders


Document Type


Date of this Version



J Neonatal Nurs. 2008 June ; 14(3): 79–86.


Copyright © 2007 Neonatal Nurses Association. Published by Elsevier Ltd.


Variation in pacifier stiffness on non-nutritive suck (NNS) dynamics was examined among infants born prematurely with a history of respiratory distress syndrome. Three types of silicone pacifiers used in the NICU were tested for stiffness, revealing the Super Soothie™ nipple is 7 times stiffer than the Wee™ or Soothie™ pacifiers even though shape and displaced volume are identical. Suck dynamics among 20 preterm infants were subsequently sampled using the Soothie™ and Super Soothie™ pacifiers during follow-up at approximately 3 months of age. ANOVA revealed significant differences in NNS cycles/min, NNS amplitude, NNS cycles/burst, and NNS cycle periods as a function of pacifier stiffness. Infants modify the spatiotemporal output of their suck central pattern generator when presented with pacifiers with significantly different mechanical properties. Infants show a non-preference to suck due to high stiffness in the selected pacifier. Therefore, excessive pacifier stiffness may decrease ororhythmic patterning and impact feeding outcomes.