According to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, you should avoid putting a baby to bed with anything other than water.4 Almost any liquid other than water; things like milk, formula, juices, and other sweet drinks such as soda, all have sugar in them, if these sugary liquids maintain contact with teeth through bottle usage, they can cause tooth decay.4
To help prevent decay:
- Never put your child to bed with a bottle.5 If allowing baby a bottle at nighttime or naptime, fill only withwater.5 Children should finish bottles before going to bed.7
- Only give your baby a bottle during meals. Do not use the bottle as a pacifier; do not allow your child to walk around with it or to drink it for extended periods. These practices not only may lead to Baby Bottle Tooth Decay, but children can suffer tooth injuries if they fall while sucking on a bottle.
- Teach your child to drink from a cup as soon as possible, usually by 12-14 months of age.7 Drinking from a cup does not cause the liquid to collect around the teeth, and a cup cannot be taken to bed. If you are concerned that a cup may be messier than a bottle, especially when you are away from home, use one that has a snap-on lid with a straw or a special valve to prevent spilling.
- Don’t put your child’s pacifiers, spoons, or other things in your mouth. Infants acquire bacteria and germs in their mouths from other people. When you clean off your baby’s pacifier or other item in your own mouth, you transfer bacteria directly to it, which then gets into your baby’s mouth. This bacteria makes the baby’s teeth more susceptible to tooth decay.7