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What Are the Dangers of Propping Bottles in a Crib?

By Sara Ipatenco ; Updated August 14, 2017

While it might be convenient to prop your baby's bottle in his crib so he can eat unassisted, it can also be dangerous. A propped bottle can pose life-threatening risks to your little one. Having all the facts about the dangers associated with propping your baby's bottle in his crib can help you take the steps necessary to feed your baby in a safer and more appropriate way.

Choking and Aspiration

When you prop your baby's bottle in his crib, he has little control over how quickly he eats. A constant stream of breast milk or formula can cause choking if the liquid flows out of the bottle more quickly than your baby can drink it. When your baby is flat on his back, the liquid might also run into the wrong tube and cause him to choke. According to the Intermountain Primary Children's Medical Center website, your baby might also breathe the liquid into his lungs if he falls asleep before the bottle is completely empty.

Suffocation

The risk of suffocation increases depending on what you use to prop your baby's bottle up. According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission website, you should never place soft bedding, such as comforters or pillows, into your baby's crib. If you prop your baby's bottle on a blanket or pillow, he might shift in the crib, which can cause the soft bedding to move around and cover his face. This can lead to restricted breathing and suffocation.

Tooth Decay

Even though your child will eventually lose all of his baby teeth, it is still essential to take proper care of them. According to the American Dental Association website, your child's baby teeth hold space in his mouth for his permanent teeth. Tooth decay can lead to tooth loss, which can impact the future of your baby's smile. Propping a bottle in your baby's crib can lead to tooth decay because his teeth have prolonged contact with the sugars from his food. When your baby is upright and awake while feeding, his saliva washes away the sugars, but when your baby is flat on his back, the liquid pools and causes the sugars to remain in contact with his teeth for a longer period of time.

Ear Infection

Propping a bottle in your baby's crib can lead to an ear infection. According to the Intermountain Primary Children's Medical Center website, when your baby is flat on his back while drinking from a bottle, the liquid pools in the back of his mouth. This can cause an ear infection if the liquid backs up in his ears. As the liquid pools, it can lead to bacteria getting into your baby's Eustachian tubes, which can cause an infection.

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