Preventing Baby Bottle Tooth Decay in Child Care

Baby bottle

Child care providers can help support good dental health in young children. Bottles should be used only for feeding, not as a pacifier or for comfort. Allowing infants to have unlimited access to a bottle of milk, formula, or juice, or a sweetened pacifier will cause tooth decay.

Baby bottle tooth decay is often painful and can damage all of a child’s primary teeth. Severe toothaches, cavities, loss of teeth, crooked permanent teeth and possible ear and speech problems can occur. The damage can be so severe that hospitalization may be necessary.

Prevent baby bottle tooth decay by setting up specific feeding policies for infants and toddlers in your child care program. Use these rules as guidelines.

  • Do not put babies into cribs with a bottle that contains milk, formula, fruit juice, or any other sweet liquid.
  • Set up a specific feeding routine for children. Offer bottles only in specific places of the child care room. Do not allow children to carry a bottle around all day.
  • Never dip a pacifier in any type of sweetened syrup or liquid.
  • Use a bottle only to feed formula, breast milk, or water to infants. Avoid putting sweetened liquids such as juice or soft drinks in a bottle.
  • Work with parents to teach infants to drink juice from a cup at 6 to 9 months of age.
  • Discontinue the use of a bottle as soon as possible after 1 year of age.

For More Information

To learn more about infant feeding and dental health in child care, check out the following eXtension Alliance for Better Child Care articles:

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