Help! My Baby will only sleep with a bottle in their mouth!
If you are adjusting to the sleeping behaviors of your little one you might worry when your baby will only sleep with a bottle in mouth? You might frequently ask yourself is it safe? Can I break the habit?
No worries. Understand that these are extremely common concerns among parents. Often, a little one will fall asleep while feeding simply for comfort. Remember that they have been getting cozy in your lap while slipping into slumber since birth. This is known as sleep feeding or dream feeding which provides a familiar and relaxing calm they are quite used to.
Nourishing your bundle of joy in a drowsy condition might be something you feel compelled to do if they refuse to snooze short of feeding or if they reject suckling when awake. If your baby is dependent on the bottle to get to sleep, and it has become a necessary prop, you should consider starting to break the cycle. Introduce better downtime routines, to prevent them from continuing to snooze with the bottle still in the mouth.
Sometimes you find that your baby will fall asleep feeding only to wake up reaching for the bottle to fall back asleep again. Some of you are already too familiar with long restless nights having to rush to your crying baby when they suddenly stir and the only thing that quiets their frustration is to stick that bottle right back in their jaw. Sure, It works. So, what’s the big deal?
Why should you not allow your baby to fall asleep with a bottle in their mouth?
Well, there are notable reasons why you would want to prevent and avoid the habit.
Frequent night wakings. Eventually, the pattern could lead to problems such as broken sleep. Yes, a feeding-sleep routine can actually result in disrupted rest, causing further distress for you and your child. If your baby only knows how to fall asleep with a bottle in their mouth, they are going to need that bottle when they transition in between sleep cycles. Since babies have many short sleep cycles, this leads to frequent night wakings. Here’s more information on teaching baby to self soothe.
Malnutrition could be a resulting risk. If your tired baby is falling asleep before finishing their bottle, underfeeding might be a concern or, alternatively overfeeding could be an issue if they are actively sucking while dozed off. Symptoms of gastrointestinal issues that stem from overfeeding are sometimes mistaken for acid reflux, allergy, or intolerance.
Poor dental health is another stake. The frequency of swallowing decreases during sleep, so milk, juices, and other starchy liquids can pool in the child’s mouth nourishing bacteria that thrive on sugar, and creating acids that lead to tooth decay and cavities. Although baby teeth are temporary and petite, they are supercritical. They support the physical structure of the mouth and face, and when damaged or lost prematurely it can potentially cause problems with chewing, speaking, and smiling. So please take care and do not neglect those little biting buds.
Parent Tip: Make sure you’re brushing your little one’s teeth daily and especially before bed to promote excellent oral health!
Ear infections. Babies who drink from a bottle in bed have a greater chance of getting an ear infection, specifically, of the eustachian tube, the canal that connects your middle ear to the back of your throat. if fluids drip into the opening it can cause problems, over time. Bear in mind that studies show babies who are sleep fed are more likely to develop asthma and other respiratory illnesses.
Aspiration risk. Similarly, feeding in a sleepy state increases the risk of aspiration problems if a child inhales excessive liquids into their lungs. Since their slight airways make them prone to gagging and choking, the hazard is even greater if your child sleeps alone.
Realize that most babies will sometimes fall asleep with a bottle with zero problems. So, there is no need for alarm or panic if you catch them nodding off while feeding from time to time. Still, you are encouraged to curtail the inclination sooner than later.
So How Do I Stop Bottle Feeding to Sleep?
Sleep feeding can be baby-led to encourage self-soothing or guardian led usually stemming from an attempt to resolve problems getting your child to settle down.
Until your little one learns how to fall asleep on their own, they will persistently wake in the night, rummaging for their prop. It’s important to break the cycle as early as possible. And surely weaning a little one from feeding to sleep can be arduous, but it can be done. It will require fortitude and modifications to adjust and respond productively to the changes.
If your kiddo has become dependent there will possibly be a period of fussing and protesting, but do not fret. Perseverance and sticking to your plan is the key to progress. You can wean your child off the bottle and get them to fall asleep peacefully in a few ways.
No more bottle. Firstly, never put a bottle in the bed or crib with your child!
Move the feeding. Another tactic is to give the bottle as the first step of the bedtime routine, instead of using it for winding down the sleep sequence. Environment is important so consider moving the feeding outside the bedroom altogether. If your child is old enough to comprehend, talk to them and explain the importance of giving up the bottle right before bed.
Resist the urge to “rescue” your baby. Keep in mind that learning a new way to sleep will be adventurous and challenging for everyone. As with learning any new skill, there is no need to rush the process. It will come. And because this is a major change, expect that your child will cry, at the start. Resist the need to run in and acknowledge your baby right away. Instead, allow them a few minutes to get accustomed to sleeping without a bottle, before pacifying them. This is not to be confused with the Cry It Out method, which is a very commonly used sleep training technique where you put your baby down and don’t respond or check on their cries until they are quiet or fast asleep.
Gradually remove the bottle to sleep. Instead of harsh methods like CIO instead, I suggest a gentler approach, where you don’t have to endure leaving your baby for long periods to cry. You can stay with your baby and occasionally lull them through voice or touch, gradually training them how to fall asleep bottle free. Any inconsistency might cause a setback. and you might unintentionally program a child to cry for food. We definitely do not want that, so make sure you are ready to stay stern and committed to the plan! The more practice you both get, the better it will be!
You might be wondering what to do to ensure your kid’s belly isn’t grumbling in the wee hours of the night. Keep them upright and try scheduling the feeding about 30 minutes before they lie to sleep to satisfy their hunger.
…Just refrain from presenting the bottle.
Parent Tip: If your child is ready to shift to a sippy cup, let them choose one themselves to make the transition more fun and interesting. They might be less intimidated if they are excited to use their new favorite big kid beaker.
When Can You Start Sleep Training?
If you are wondering when the right time to start sleep training is, the answer is NOW. The longer you wait the more fixed the habit will be and the harder it will be to break. Most babies can sleep through the night between 3 and 6 months. Even if your 3-month-old still needs that one night feeding, that doesn’t mean they should be waking all night, so they are still a great candidate for sleep training.
Not sure if your baby is ready for sleep training? Just email me.
Even if you’re still feeding your toddler to sleep, it is never too late!
Being the best Mommy possible always takes time and patience, but if you need extra support try our effective techniques to get your baby sleeping well without needing to rely on the bottle. Improve your little one’s sleep cycles by learning vital skills to fall independently, by visiting our Baby Sleep Consultant. services page. Sign up and utilize our coaching services and you and your little one will be enjoying long and peaceful rounds of slumber sooner than you can blink an eye!