Addressing Bedtime Bottle Habits: Five Useful Tips for Parents

Address bedtime bottle habits.

Kick the Bad Bedtime Bottle Habits

There’s nothing that warms the heart more than the sight of your child’s cherubic face peacefully snuggled up with a bottle, drifting off to sleep. But, while the sight may have you reaching to snap a photo, allowing your child to fall asleep with a bottle can do more harm than you think. Nighttime bottle feeding poses some serious risks to your child’s health—and that includes their oral health. Instead of letting your baby fall asleep with a bottle, break the habit now.

The dangers of bedtime bottle habits.

Even though giving your baby a bottle at night in their crib can seem like a time saver, there are many reasons why giving them that nighttime bottle could be a health and safety hazard.

Choking hazard: When you are holding your baby, you can adjust the angle they are being fed to reduce the chance of choking. When a child is left alone in their bed with a bottle, they may not be able to shift themselves to get the correct flow from their bottle, which can lead to choking.

Tooth decay: Tooth decay is a huge risk for parents who leave bottles in the crib with their babies. It even has a name—baby bottle tooth decay. When a child is allowed to fall asleep with a bottle in their mouth, it exposes the teeth to more sugars from the milk or formula. And, over time, those sugars break down into acid that can eat away at the enamel of the teeth.

Ear infections: Because of the way our anatomy is, a baby who is given a bottle in bed is more susceptible to ear infections. This is because the Eustachian tube connects the middle ear to the back of the throat. If a baby is drinking while they are flat on their back, that increases the chance of liquids flowing into the Eustachian tube, causing a middle ear infection.

Future asthma: Studies have shown that babies who are given bottles in bed are more apt to develop asthma and wheezing later in life.

Feed-to-sleep association: Routinely giving a child a bottle while they are in bed can strengthen their feed-to-sleep association, meaning they may turn to the bottle as a comfort object that can become required for sleep.

Help your child transition away from a bottle at bedtime.

If you’ve ever tried to tell a toddler “no,” you know it can be no easy feat to put a stop to some habits. There are, however, some tips you can try to change those sleep time bottle habits. Here are a few tips to help break the bedtime bottle habit.

  1. Establish a consistent bedtime routine: Instead of offering your child a bedtime bottle, create a different routine that involves calming them down. Establish a routine that is easy to do together every night. For example, have your child brush their teeth, then settle into bed with a bedtime story.
  2. Offer comfort without a bottle: If your baby is fussy, try another way to comfort them, be it through a gentle touch or a soothing voice.
  3. Offer a comfort alternative: Show your child that they can settle into bed at night without a bedtime bottle. If they need something for comfort, offer up a stuffed animal or blanket to cuddle with.
  4. Encourage self-soothing techniques: Create an environment that is suited for bedtime. Make sure the room is quiet, dark, and peaceful, so your baby will fall asleep on their own with ease.
  5. Provide extra comfort and reassurance: If your child is having a hard time adjusting to a new routine without a bottle, remember that change takes time. Allow your baby time to learn how to fall asleep without having a bottle to rely on. Don’t rush the time it takes, either—let your child know you are still there by offering words of encouragement as they drift off into dreamland.

By kicking the bedtime bottle habit early on, parents can help keep their baby’s teeth in proper shape. This also sets the foundation for good oral hygiene routines as your child grows older.

Visit The Tooth Doc for biannual visits.

The Tooth Doc in Omaha is the place to bring your child for their biannual dental visits. And don’t think that it is too early to bring your child in for their first visit. A child should see the dentist for the first time after their first tooth has come in, which is when they are about six months old, or by their first birthday.

This may seem early to some parents, but early dental visits allow the team at The Tooth Doc to evaluate the way your child’s teeth are coming in, as well as the bone structure of their jaw. Early childhood visits can also warm a child up to the dental office, easing fears and dental anxiety as your child gets older. Make sure to schedule your visit today!