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The milk is part of her bedtime routine...

Should she still be using a bottle?

She doesn't need the milk, it has just been a staple in her bedtime routine. I know that this is potentially bad for her teeth.

Should I try to get her to use a sippy cup with water as part of the bedtime routine?

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up vote 5 down vote accepted

There are two reasons such a habit is bad for baby's teeth. I, as well as others, elaborate further on both problems in response to this question. The first is that prolonged use of a bottle can impact mouth shape and tooth position. The second has to do with the chemical contents of the milk and the propensity for tooth decay as well as gum disease. Each of these items has a different solution.

The tooth decay aspect of a pre-bedtime bottle feeding can be assuaged if the milk portion of the routine is simply moved so that it is prior to brushing your daughter's teeth, but there are other aspects to baby-bottle tooth decay such as a possible connection to childhood obesity (which makes a few other diseases such as diabetes more likely) as well. For this reason, you are right when you suggest switching to water.

The mouth shape and tooth placement aspect is most likely due to prolonged sucking action and is also related to frequency of use as well as how long the baby uses the method. Problems that arise alongside prolonged bottle use also arise with use of a pacifier so when it is time to rid baby of the bottle, it is also time to do away with the binky/paci. Concerns about this are why there is such a debate over when baby should be weaned and how early/late is too early/late. This is the reason to switch away from the bottle entirely and most recommendations are that it is time once the child is well into her twos (AAPD, UNICEF and others). Again, see the related question for more information as well as citations.

However, I suggest making one change at a time. Perhaps moving the milk into a sippy cup first is the easiest switch and then move it to earlier in the routine is the routine shortly there-after would be the easiest way to go. Good Luck!

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On top of these concerns, don't most parents implement a "no liquids in the 1 hour before bedtime" (or so) cut-off when night time potty training? It was for that reason primarily that when I weaned my daughter I did not replace her nursing session before bed with any sort of liquids but went with extra cuddles instead. – justkt Dec 17 '13 at 14:35
A lot of kids don't do night time potty training until well after they are two, but it depends on the kid and family - great point though! One More Reason yeah! Sounds like a good answer to me justkt - replace milk with cuddles. – balanced mama Dec 17 '13 at 20:10

I have also a two-year-old child, and before bed-time she always take a glass of water, also if she doesn't really need it. In general I think that to respect a routine during bed-time is really important. I'm not sure if my suggestion will be right, but maybe you could try to introduce only little changes. For example taking the bottle of milk with you, and putting the milk in two glasses: one for you and one for your child.

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You must give her milk but in bowl or glass or mug. Just not in bottle. Try to keep away bottle from the baby as much as possible.

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Welcome to the community Monika and thank you for your contribution. On Stack Exchange we try to cite sources or experiential reasons for our statements. From whence does your information come? This accounts for mouth shape and tooth positioning, but not decay. – balanced mama Dec 17 '13 at 13:01

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