Parents of babies need shortcuts wherever they can get them. Parents do occasionally need to eat or sleep or pee without putting their child in grave danger, after all.
But writer Wendy Wisner at Scary Mummy reminds us that propping up your baby’s bottle to feed them hands-free is not a shortcut worth taking.
It can be very tempting, and many of us have done it at one time or another. But please, DO. NOT. EVER “prop up” your baby’s bottle. It may seem like an innocent enough habit, but doing so not only has general health consequences—it can be extremely unsafe. In some cases, babies have even died from this practice.
It’s tempting to create a soft cushion of blankets across the baby’s chest to hold up the bottle while you step away for a moment, but the American Academy of Pediatrics warns against this practice for a variety of reasons:
Never prop the bottle and let your baby feed alone; not only will you miss the opportunity to bond with her while she feeds, but there’s also a danger that she’ll choke or the bottle will slip out of position. Propping the bottle also increases the risk of ear infections. We do not recommend devices to hold a bottle in a baby’s mouth — they could be dangerous.
Choking is the biggest, most immediate risk but propping can also force a baby to keep up with the flow of milk — even if they’re full — causing them to overeat.
It can also lead to tooth decay from the milk pooling around the teeth, the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention says, a problem that can also be caused by putting a baby to bed with a bottle.
If you’ve bottle-propped in the past, don’t sweat it. But it’s a good idea to hold the bottle yourself from now on.