Baby Bottle Safety Tips


With so much to do and so much to learn, many new parents find that taking care of their new baby can seem overwhelming. Here are a few safety tips to help guide you through the “do’s and don’ts” of bottle feeding your baby.

Never leave baby unattended while feeding. Besides the possibility of accidents, you’ll want to be there to observe your baby’s feeding habits, changes in preferences – and just enjoy this especially close time.

Never feed baby while he or she is sleeping or lying down. Until the child can sit up and hold his or her own bottle, hold baby semi-upright. This way you can make sure that the liquid flows directly down the throat, not into nose (which can cause ear infections) or into the lungs, making baby choke.

Use a clean bottle every time. Bottles and nipples should be washed and rinsed thoroughly before the first use, following the manufacturer’s instructions. After that, wash and dry bottles after each use – again, according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Always check the temperature of a bottle’s contents before giving it to baby. In most cases, it needs only to be at room temperature – that is, it should feel slightly warm (not hot!) on your skin.

Always discard anything left in a bottle after a feeding. Then clean the bottle before the next use, even if it only contained water. This will help ensure a safe and germ-free feeding.This information is provided to help answer some questions you may have about baby bottles. Always check with your pediatrician if you have any questions about the health and welfare of your baby.

Is it necessary to sterilize bottles?

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, sterilization is no longer necessary as long as your water comes from a municipal water supply (as opposed to a well) and you use a dishwasher. Some formula manufacturers do continue to recommend that you boil water for about a minute before mixing it with powder and concentrate, especially for younger babies. You should check with your pediatrician to get specific information on preparing formula for your baby.

What’s the best way to warm a bottle? Is it necessary?

According to the Mayo Clinic, the best way to warm formula is to place the filled bottle in a bowl or pan of hot water and let it stand for a few minutes. If you hear your baby starting to stir, you can take a prepared bottle out of the refrigerator and start to warm it. Then, by the time you are ready to feed your baby, the milk is ready. Shake the bottle after warming it to distribute the warmed milk evenly. Then turn it upside down and allow a drop or two of the formula to fall on your hand. It should feel comfortable, barely warm. However, there’s no health reason to feed a baby warmed milk or formula (though your baby may prefer it). Indeed, if your baby is accustomed to drinking bottles at room temperature or slightly cold, you save yourself the time and hassle of preheating bottles, especially when the baby is crying to be fed right away. You should not use a microwave to heat a bottle of breast milk or formula. Microwave ovens can heat unevenly, and create “hot spots” that can burn your baby.

Which bottles are better for my baby, glass or plastic?

Plastic or glass, colored or clear, washable or disposable liner – it’s really up to you. Of course, the bottle that is the best is the one your baby prefers. In the first few weeks of bottle use, be prepared to try a variety of shapes and materials to find one that is suitable. In a few months, be prepared to switch again when your child is old enough to hold the bottle.

There really is no “best” bottle overall. Take note, however, that once your baby gets older, he or she may tip, drop or throw the bottle – so plastic may be a better choice. Additionally, you may hear stories that glass bottles get too hot or plastic bottles leak dangerous amounts of harmful chemicals into the formula. Rest assured, there are no facts to support these claims.

Will using a bottle damage my child’s dental health?

So-called “Baby Bottle Tooth Decay” can develop if your child’s teeth and gums are in prolonged contact with almost any liquid other than water. This can happen from putting your baby or child to bed with a bottle of formula, milk, juice, soft drinks, sugar water, sugared drinks, etc. Allowing your baby to suck on a bottle for longer than a mealtime, either when awake or asleep, can also cause Baby Bottle Tooth Decay. This is a costly condition to treat and, if left untreated, can quickly destroy the teeth involved. It can also lead to pain, infection, early loss of baby teeth, and an increased risk of decay in permanent teeth. If your child occasionally needs to be soothed orally, provide a small bottle with plain water or a sucking aid such as a pacifier.

How long can I bottle feed my baby?

Your baby’s readiness to be weaned from his or her bottle will be signaled by:

1.Looking around while nursing or taking the bottle
2.Mouthing the nipple without sucking
3.Trying to slide off your lap before the feeding is finished

This usually occurs before the first birthday. Once your baby is feeding him/herself more often, it’s a natural time to introduce drinking from a cup. Remember that even under the best of circumstances, weaning from the bottle will not take place overnight. Six months may pass before your baby is willing to take all liquid from a cup. One major disadvantage to prolonged bottle-feeding is that the bottle can become a security object. To avoid this, don’t let him or her carry or drink from a bottle while playing. Restrict the use of a bottle to feedings when sitting down or being held. At all other times, offer a cup. If you never allow your child to take the bottle while moving around, he or she won’t realize that bringing it along is even an option.

Answers to your questions were provided by Loraine Stern, MD, Fellow American Academy of Pediatrics, Pediatrician, Associate Clinical Professor, UCLA Department of Pediatrics

This information is provided to help answer some questions you may have about baby bottles. Always check with your pediatrician if you have any questions about the health and welfare of your baby.