Feeding an infant safely and effectively is a top concern for new parents. Babies who are bottle-fed may require up to eight to 12 feedings per day. Some parents may consider using bottle proppers, which are devices designed to allow hands-free feeding. However, it’s important to understand the potential risks associated with using bottle proppers.
What Is a Bottle Propper? A bottle propper is a device, either homemade or store-bought, that enables parents to feed their infant hands-free when the baby is too young to hold a bottle on their own. Some parents who use bottle proppers may be tempted to leave their baby unattended during feedings, as the propper holds the bottle for them. However, it’s essential to note that both the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) strongly discourage the use of bottle proppers due to the choking hazard they pose.
Types of Bottle Proppers Bottle proppers come in various forms, including standalone bottle holders, bottle attachments, or extension tubes that allow the nipple to be removed from the bottle itself. Some parents may also create makeshift proppers using household objects like rolled-up blankets or towels. It’s important to emphasize that neither store-bought nor homemade bottle proppers are considered safe.
Why Do Some Parents Use Bottle Proppers? The use of bottle proppers may be tempting for tired or overwhelmed parents looking for a brief break from their infant’s demanding feeding schedule. Bottle proppers offer a hands-free feeding solution, allowing parents to multitask or take a moment for themselves. However, the perceived benefits for parents come with potential risks.
The Dangers of Bottle Propping While bottle propping may offer brief convenience for parents, the risks far outweigh any potential benefits. Some of the dangers associated with bottle propping include:
- Choking: Babies using bottle proppers may be unable to move the bottle away from their mouth, increasing the risk of choking.
- Uncontrolled Eating: Bottle propping prevents parents from monitoring their baby’s feeding and adjusting the bottle’s angle and flow as needed. This can lead to uncontrolled and unsupervised eating, potentially causing overeating, gas, fussiness, and weight issues.
- Ear Infections and Tooth Decay: Prolonged bottle propping can result in the pooling of liquid (formula or breast milk) at the back of the baby’s mouth, which can enter the ears and lead to ear infections. Additionally, the sugars in the pooled liquid can contribute to tooth decay in infants.
What to Do Instead of Bottle Propping Until babies are old enough to hold their bottles independently, parents should supervise their feedings. It’s crucial to resist the temptation to use bottle proppers. Instead, parents should:
- Ask for help when they are tired and overwhelmed.
- Establish comfortable routines that work for both the baby and the parents.
- Take things slow and prioritize bonding with their baby during feedings.
If parents feel overwhelmed or anxious, it’s essential to seek support from a doctor and the child’s pediatrician. Help is available, and it’s crucial to prioritize the safety and well-being of the baby.
Tips for Safe and Effective Bottle Feeding Feeding a baby safely and effectively is of utmost importance. Here are additional tips for smooth bottle feeding:
- Ensure that milk is at room temperature. Never heat milk or formula in a microwave, as it can create hot spots that may burn the baby’s mouth or throat.
- Hold the baby at an angle that allows them to control their feeding and minimize the risk of choking. An upright or diagonal position is advisable.
- If the baby appears full or pulls away from the bottle, provide feeding breaks.
- Always burp the baby after feeding to release any trapped air bubbles, which can cause discomfort.