Are Early Childhood Wheezing and Bottle Feeding In Bed Connected?

Child with baby bottle

One of the struggles of being a new parent is how demanding your little one can seem. Is anything that saves time or offers even a few more minutes of sleep worth trying? That’s why many new parents consider leaving a formula or breast milk bottle with their child in their crib. It is a good idea. What would it hurt if the baby woke up hungry? They can just feed themselves, right?

Reasons Not to Leave a Bottle With Your Baby

That’s not entirely true. Leaving a bottle in your baby’s crib creates potential problems. It’s more than spills or leaks in the bottle, too. The more significant concerns are health problems. There are multiple reasons not to do this, but let’s look at the five primary reasons not to leave a bottle in your baby’s crib:

  • You Baby Could Choke – Children have smaller airways than adults, making them more prone to choking while drinking. If the liquid flows faster than they can drink, there’s a risk of severely hurting your child. If your baby starts to choke or cough while you’re feeding them, prop up the baby. However, if your baby is on their back and in a crib, it’s harder to adjust if they choke. The risk of choking is another reason not to leave a baby alone with their bottle. Even if you add rice cereal to the bottle, the liquid thickens, creating more of a choking hazard. Many pediatricians advise against using rice cereal to help your baby sleep.
  • Tooth Decay – Dozing off with a bottle in their mouth can cause milk to remain stuck to the gums or teeth. The milk will be stuck to the teeth if your baby is teething. If your baby has something still in their mouth while they sleep, there is a risk of tooth decay since the formula has traces of sugar. The same can be said for other drinks. Why? When sugar lingers in the mouth, it can break down and create acid that eats through the tooth’s enamel. 
  • Higher Risk of Ear Infection – When your baby leans back in bed and drinks from a bottle, this increases the risk of ear infections. A eustachian tube connects to your ear from the back of your throat. If your baby is on their back while drinking, fluid can enter their ears and cause infections.
  • Wheezing and the development of asthma – Bottle feeding in bed is associated with wheezing and asthma in early childhood. A study of children with a family history of asthma or allergies was conducted.
  • Associating Sleep with Food – If you leave a bottle in your baby’s crib, they’ll associate it with sleep. In other words, if you don’t leave the bottle with them, they won’t sleep.

How to Feed Your Baby Near Bedtime

How do you ensure your baby is full when it’s bedtime? Start by feeding them a little before bedtime, usually about 15 minutes before, and establish a routine. After feeding them, keep them upright for a few minutes if they spit up. These tricks are usually enough to keep your baby from getting hungry. And that will help keep you from leaving the bottle in their crib with them.

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