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Toss That Bottle! How Extended Bottle Feeding Can Harm Your Child

April 7, 2014
By
Original Author: Keren Perles

baby-and-bottle

Children tend to drink from the bottle over a longer period of time, therefore increasing the amount of time that the teeth are exposed to the liquids in the bottle

Camille Nakamura

Ostrow School of Dentistry

The idea of convincing your bottle-loving baby to give up her bottle makes you want to throw in the towel before you’ve started. But is long-term bottle use really that much of a problem? The answer, unfortunately, is yes.

The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) recommends that parents wean their children from the bottle between 12 and 14 months of age, and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) advises parents against putting a child to sleep with a bottle of anything other than water. While these organizations usually cite tooth decay as their primary concern about long-term bottle use, research also suggests that keeping the bottle around for too long can increase your child’s risk of obesity down the line. (Note that babies who are breastfed through toddlerhood do not share this risk unless they fall asleep while nursing frequently at night after age one.)

Baby Bottle Mouth

Sticking with the bottle for too long has been proven to put children at risk for dental decay. “Children tend to drink from the bottle over a longer period of time, therefore increasing the amount of time that the teeth are exposed to the liquids in the bottle,” explains Camille Nakamura of the Ostrow School of Dentistry.

Although baby teeth do fall out during childhood, tooth decay at this young age can still pave the way for dental problems down the line. “Primary teeth or ‘baby teeth’ are extremely important in functions such as speech development, eating, and maintaining proper space for permanent teeth,” says Nakamura. “In addition studies have shown that children who have cavities in primary teeth are more likely to have cavities in permanent teeth.”

Obesity

Not only that, but babies who continue using a bottle into the toddler years are at a higher risk of struggling with obesity later in life. For example, one study led by Robert Whitaker found that children who still drank from a bottle at their second birthday were 30% more likely to be obese at age 5.5, even after controlling for other factors. Another found that 3 year olds who went to sleep with a bottle were significantly more likely to become overweight or obese.