Bottle feeding and tooth decay
What causes tooth decay in babies? Bacteria that live in your baby's mouth cause tooth decay. The bacteria live and grow on the sugar your baby drinks. Sugar is not just in sweetened drinks, but is also in formula and milk. Tooth decay can begin when sweet liquids, formula or milk are in your baby's mouth for a long time. This can happen when a baby falls asleep with a bottle in his mouth or when a baby carries a bottle around and drinks from it all day long.
What can you do to prevent decay in your baby's teeth?
- Breast-feeding is the best way to feed your baby and prevent tooth decay.
- If you are bottle feeding, always hold your baby when he or she is drinking from the bottle.
- Put your baby to bed without a bottle.
- Use plain water if your baby is thirsty between feedings. Do not put soda, sweetened water or tea, Jell-O water, or presweetened fruit drinks into your baby's bottle. Your baby does not need these drinks.
- At about 8 months of age you can begin teaching your baby to drink from a cup. From a cup, not a bottle, you can give your baby sips of beverages like fruit juice mixed with water.
- Slowly decrease use of bottles as your baby gets close to one year of age.
Here are some tips to help your baby fall asleep without a bottle:
- Give her a special blanket or soft toy to hug in bed.
- Give him a clean pacifier instead of a bottle.
- Gently rub your baby's back.
- Play soft music or sing to your baby.
- Last, try reading a book to your baby or tell her a quiet story to prepare for sleep.