A very common ‘problem’ seen in children is that they are ‘bottle fed’ forever.
It’s because both the child and the parents find it very ‘convenient’. The child gets lot of satisfaction on sucking the bottle and getting milk (specially at sleeping times). The parents, on the other hand, find it very easy to put the child to sleep by giving them the bottle.
So, what’s the problem ?
- Children should be weaned from 4-6 months of age (started on solids and weaned from milk). Food is richer in calories and nutrients like Iron, not present in milk.
- If they drink too much milk, they fill up and don’t eat solids, ending Iron deficient. We see it everyday in our clinics and most of the times the cause is excessive consumption of milk.
- Bottle feeding is not good for teeth, specially at night and may lead to caries as the milk coats the teeth, predisposing them to bacterial overgrowth.
- Too much milk may make children obese as it will give them extra calories if they are already getting enough from other meals.
- It becomes harder to get rid of the bottle, longer you leave it.
What’s the recommendation
Most dietitian suggest, stopping bottle by 1 year of age, max 18 months. Children should be encouraged to eat variety of food (that adults eat) and drink around 500-600 mls a day max, by a cup. Even if they are breastfed, weaning advice remains the same.
Fresh Cow’s milk is not recommended till 1 year of age after which full fat cow’s milk can be given. Also see my blog on Cow’s milk allergy.
Giving Multivitamins is being recommended more and more and over the counter multivitamin preparations are usually safe and may prevent against deficiencies.