Dealing with a crying baby can be stressful, and many parents will try to quickly soothe with a bottle. Giving your child a bottle when they’re crying because they’re hungry is perfectly fine, but handing them a bottle filled with their favorite juice in an effort to calm them could actually be doing more harm than good — especially if you let them fall asleep with it.
Fruit Juice and Cavities in Babies
“If a child goes to bed with milk or juice in a bottle or sippy cup, it can be harmful to their teeth,” says Dr. Adam Silevitch, DMD, an attending pediatric dentist at New York Presbyterian Hospital-Columbia. “Because of immature enamel, newly erupted teeth may be at higher risk of developing cavities. Milk and juice contain sugar, and that sugar can eventually lead to cavities.”
Additionally, the American Academy of Pediatrics doesn’t recommend infants ingest fruit juice at all. According to the AAP, fruit juice “offers no nutritional benefit” to children under 1 year of age and should be limited to four ounces daily for children 1 to 3 years of age.
How to Wean Your Child Off Juice
If your baby or toddler has gotten used to self-soothing with juice in a bottle, Dr. Silevitch recommends helping them quit the habit slowly.
“I recommend that a parent wean their child off of juice, rather than remove the juice ‘cold-turkey,’” he says. “Start with a bottle of 80 percent juice and 20 percent water at first. Then, each day a little less juice and a little more water, until the bottle is only water.” According to the American Dental Association, it's recommended to limit juice and offer water or milk first.
For slightly older children, Dr. Silevitch recommends using some kind of reward chart to help stop excessive juice consumption. “Every day they only have one cup of juice they can earn a sticker to put on their chart/board. Parents can decide how many stickers the child will need to earn a special prize or present.”
Protecting Your Child’s Teeth
While you should always talk to your dentist first about when your child should start using a fluoride toothpaste, the American Dental Association recommends that you brush your child's teeth as soon as they come in to remove plaque, which helps protect your child's teeth from cavities. If your child is over 2 years of age, help keep healthy habits going by encouraging them to brush twice a day with Aquafresh’s Bubblemint toothpaste. Not only does it have a fun flavor, it includes fluoride, which provides sugar acid protection to help protect your child's teeth from cavities.