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Should toddlers drink milk before bedtime?

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Giving toddlers milk before bedtime has become a routine in many households. While giving your toddler milk might provide comfort, doing so could result in long-term dental problems.

Bedtime Milk and Cavities

Allowing your toddler to drink milk before bed could lead to unexpected cavities, which are common among young children. Some children are affected by cavities as young as 6 months of age. In fact, "Tooth decay is the single most common chronic childhood disease—5 times more common than asthma, 4 times more common than early childhood obesity, and 20 times more common than diabetes," according to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry.

Provide Water Instead of Milk

If your toddler is accustomed to going to bed with a bottle or sippy cup of milk, replace the milk with water. This is an effective way to keep your child's teeth from being saturated with milk during sleep. "Only put water in sippy cups—except during mealtime. By filling the sippy cup with juice, or even milk, and allowing a child to drink from it throughout the day, bathes the child’s teeth in cavity causing bacteria," (AAPD). Moreover, parents should brush children's teeth twice daily once the first tooth has appeared, especially before bedtime. " If the mouth isn’t cleaned, sugar from the milk or juice will remain on the teeth for a long time at night and can eventually eat away at the enamel," (Everyday Health).

References:

American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry: Early Childhood Caries

Everyday Health.com: 10 Bad Habits for Kids' Teeth

Ask Dr. Sears: 10 Tips for Night Feeding

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