Giving Baby Bottle in Bed (Incl. Crib) – 7 Reasons for NOT to Do It!

Balint Horvath, PhD

Writer, parent, and veteran of baby feeding battles.

Updated:

Sleepless nights are something most parents battle with in the early days of parenting and giving a baby bottle in a crib could be the only solution. But, it’s not a good idea and as a father myself, I’m sharing the reasons why you shouldn’t do it!

Giving a baby bottle in bed can lead to choking, suffocation, tooth decay, and unhealthy weight issues. Babies can develop wheezing and asthma in early childhood or use bottle feeding as a crutch for sleeping. Bottle-fed babies should never take a bottle lying flat on their backs.

Key takeaways

  • There are too many risks associated with bottle-feeding a baby in a bed or a crib and they include choking, suffocation, and infections or tooth decay. 
  • Weaning your baby off their bedtime bottle reduces the dangers of bottle-feeding in a crib.

Is it ok for babies to lie down in a crib with a bottle? 

Bottle-feeding in bed could soothe your baby to sleep in no time at all but it’s not ok for infants to lie down in a crib with a bottle. Read on as I share the risks associated with letting your baby suck on a bottle while in the crib. 

7 risks of giving a baby a bottle in a crib 

1.  Your baby can choke on milk

Bottle-feeding your baby in a lying-down position is a choking hazard. Smaller children are prone to gagging when lying on their back and drinking liquids, especially if it flows out faster than they can swallow. As they breathe in fluid, they’re unable to clear their airway, resulting in choking. 

2.  There’s a real risk of tooth decay

If your baby falls asleep while bottle feeding, with remnants of formula or breastmilk in their mouth, the higher the risk of tooth decay for new emerging teeth. The formula or breastmilk breaks down into an acid which is one of the causes of tooth decay in children

For me as a dad, this was one big reason why we paid attention to not giving my daughter a bottle while in bed. I’ve been the one responsible for cleaning her teeth and I would have hated myself for causing her an early tooth decay.

3.  Future risk of wheezing and asthma 

Numerous research has shown that feeding your baby a bottle in bed can increase the risk of wheezing and asthma as your baby grows into early childhood. This is more common when you give your baby a bottle in the crib before they go to sleep

4. Your baby can get an ear infection 

Bottle feeding your baby while they’re lying down in bed can lead to ear inflammation and infections. It’s easier for the formula or breastmilk to flow into their Eustachian tube and pool in the middle ear. The result? A painful ear infection and an unhappy baby!

5. Feed-to-sleep association

Your baby may find sucking on the bottle soothing. However, this can result in associating bottle feeding with sleeping and unhealthy feeding patterns. It’s equally important to not give your baby an empty bottle as a comforter before going to sleep. 

With my fiancée we suffered from lack of sleep for months, when our daughter was a baby and feed-to-sleep association was definitely something we wanted to avoid. That would have just exacerbated the sleep issues we were battling with.

6. Your baby could suffocate 

You increase the risk of suffocation if you’re using pillows to prop your baby up while bottle feeding in bed. Suffocation happens when your baby’s nose and mouth are covered by something such as a blanket or cushion. Small babies are unable to lift their heads and may end up smothering themselves. You can prevent suffocation by not giving your baby the bottle in bed.   

7. It can cause unhealthy weight 

If you’re feeding with formula, you need to give them the correct amount to avoid unhealthy weight gain or loss. Giving your baby a bottle in a crib can result in underfeeding if they fall asleep before finishing a feed. Or, your baby may feel pressured to drink a bottle in bed before going to sleep even when they’re not hungry. 

Can you give a baby a bottle in bed?

The straight answer to giving your baby a bottle in a bed is NO. It’s important to bottle feed your baby in a semi-upright position with the bottle angled slightly for proper milk flow. Your baby should be fully supervised whenever having the bottle. 

Are there risks to putting a baby down with a bottle in bed?

Yes, there are simply too many risks to putting a baby down with a bottle in bed. Here’s a summary of the hazards mentioned in my article:

  • Choking
  • Suffocation
  • Ear infections
  • Wheezing and asthma in early childhood
  • Unhealthy weight
  • Tooth decay

When it’s time to stop the bedtime bottle 

The night-time bottle is often the last one to be stopped when weaning your baby. Stopping the bedtime bottle should happen between 12 to 15 months.

These two sleep consultants talk about bottle weaning in this video.

Tips and tricks to wean your baby off of nighttime bottle feeding 

  • Make sure your baby gets enough formula from their daytime feeding. 
  • Avoid giving your baby a typically 8 oz bottle when they wake up during the night – rather soothe them back to sleep by patting them gently. 
  • Start introducing them to the sippy cup for their last feed before bedtime. 
  • Give your baby a pacifier or comforter to soothe them to sleep instead of the bottle.

Conclusion

Giving your baby a bottle while in bed is a no-no because of too many risks associated with it. If your baby cries when you take the bottle away at bedtime, soothe them to sleep using other methods. Our baby daughter responded well to soothing sounds such as a white noise machine or one of us singing a lullaby to her.

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Author

I’m Balint, founder of this site and a father (and dad) to a baby-turned toddler. I found the world of babies so fascinating that I started a blog dedicated only to that topic. By the way, I studied physics, engineering (PhD, MSc), and therefore I do a thorough research when I write about something. Since it’s a blog, of course I also write about my personal experiences.

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