Cavities among children are becoming more and more prevalent. Luckily, there are a few things that you can do to prevent cavities while they’re young, and create great oral health habits for the rest of their lives. One thing that’s a common cause of cavities in young children, is a bottle. This may seem surprising to you, since all babies drink from bottles.
Bottles at bed time
It’s a good idea to not send your child to bed with a bottle. This can be hard, because some babies find it soothing to put themselves to sleep with their bottle. It can be very comforting, but the milk will pool in their mouths after they’ve finished drinking, which can cause gum and tooth decay. This includes formula, breast milk, and dairy and nut milks. Try to establish a bedtime routine that doesn’t include leaving them with their bottle. Let them have their bottle before they go to bed, even while they’re in bed, as long as you’re sitting there to supervise. When you leave their room, take their bottle with you, before they fall asleep. Slowly transition to where they have a drink, whether from a bottle or sippy cup, before getting into bed every night.
Don’t heat their bottles in the microwave
When your baby is incredibly fussy and really needs to eat, it can be tempting to heat their bottle in the microwave. Doing this can create hot spots within the milk, because it doesn’t heat properly. It can cause pain for your baby as they drink, burning their teeth and gums. It can also heat and damage the plastic of the bottles, that weren’t created to be put in the microwave. The best, and safest, way to heat a bottle of milk is to put it in a pan of hot water. You can boil or heat water, and then place the bottle in the hot water until it’s warm enough to drink.
Teach them to drink from a lidless cup
Once a child is walking independently, usually around 12-18 months old, you should try to wean them off of their bottle so they won’t be walking around with their bottles in their hands. A great way to transition them to a lidless cup is to have them start using a sippy cup. When they’re sitting at the table during meal times, have them practice drinking from a lidless cup, with your supervision.