Babies under 1 year old receive a substantial portion of their nutrition from formula or breast milk, and many fall asleep better and sleep longer when they have a bottle before bed. Many babies go through phases during which they refuse to take their bottles at certain times, particularly bedtime. This can be confusing and frustrating, especially for parents of young babies who require the nutrition of a bedtime bottle. Talk to your child's pediatrician if you're concerned that her bottle refusal interferes with her nutrient intake.
Bedtime Bottle Weaning
Young babies need to eat every few hours, so a bedtime bottle provides them with vital nutrients at nighttime. Between 6 and 9 months, however, babies no longer require a bedtime bottle, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. Your child may be weaning herself from the bottle. If she is old enough, this is not cause for concern.
Breastfed babies get more than just nutrition from nursing. They also receive substantial comfort from snuggling up to their mothers. Pediatrician Dr. William Sears explains that the act of nursing lowers stress for both mothers and infants. If your child is breastfed throughout the day, she may be resisting a bedtime bottle because she'd prefer to nurse.
When children first begin eating solid foods, they may resist bedtime bottles, particularly if they eat solids for dinner or right before bed. Some babies dislike bedtime and learn to associate the bottle with being left alone at night. If your child is fearful or has difficulty sleeping, refusing a bottle may be his way of avoiding sleep. Some children continue taking bedtime bottles after they have been weaned from breast milk or formula. If your child is older than 1 year, he may be weaning himself. Sick babies frequently alter their normal routines because they don't feel well. If your child has suddenly stopped taking a bedtime bottle and shows other signs of illness such as fever, crankiness or pulling on the ears, consult your pediatrician.
Babies under 6 months who do not take a bedtime bottle will wake frequently during the night; other children require a bottle to fall asleep. There are several strategies parents can use to encourage these children to have a bedtime bottle. Feed your child solids during the afternoon instead of the evening. Change her bedtime by 15 or 30 minutes and give her a bottle in a different location than usual. Ensure there are not distractions around such as a television, other children or intense conversations.
- "The Portable Pediatrician"; William Sears, M.D., et al.; 2011
- "Caring For Your Baby and Young Child"; American Academy of Pediatrics; 2009
- "Health, Safety and Nutrition for the Young Child"; Lynn R. Marotz; 2011