Even though bottle propping is an unsafe practice that goes back many years, it is now receiving increased attention as society, including the baby sleep consultancy industry, tries to sell a "solution" for everything.
If you haven’t heard of bottle propping, it simply means that you use a pillow, blankets or a device to hold (prop) your baby’s bottle in place while they feed. This is usually done with a baby too young to hold the bottle up themselves, and it leaves a parent’s hands free. But both of these factors are what can cause dire consequences.
Tragically, bottle propping can be fatal. Young babies may not have the head control or strength to move away from the flow of the milk that is being aided by gravity. Quite simply they can choke to death as they cannot escape from the milk, or inhale it as the bottle becomes displaced.
It was recently brought to our attention that one of the Baby Sleep Consultancies here in New Zealand are promoting the unsafe practice of bottle propping as part of their techniques to help babies sleep better, Not only is this extremely irresponsible, it is also unfortunately a testament of how unregulated this industry is.
The American Academy of Pediatrics says: “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”.
The CDC has similar guidelines, and also lists concerns about tooth decay as a reason to never bottle prop.
They also advise that bottle propping increases the likelihood that you will overfeed your baby, because when you aren’t watching your baby for hunger cues, your baby is more likely to eat more than they need.
Feeding your baby is so much more than providing nutrition - a warm, loving experience where you cuddle your baby closely, gaze into her eyes, and coo and talk to her. When we are feeding babies in our arms, and they gag or choke we can easily remove the bottle. We can sit them up and pat their backs making sure they are safe.
This information is to help increase awareness of a common practice that can have serious consequences. Please do not ever prop your babies bottle, and please do not believe any baby sleep consultants endorsing this practice and telling you it is safe.
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SnugBags are merino & organic cotton baby sleeping bags that are specially designed to keep little ones safe, warm and snug at night.
Kim is the owner of SNUGBAGS - Merino for Kids. Together with her partner James and their little girl Neeva Rose, she lives in a little beach town called Piha on the West Coast in New Zealand. They love surfing, building sandcastles and all things natural and organic.