Still bottle-feeding your child at age 2? It might be time to reconsider

Giving that 24-month-old a bottle may seem like a good idea at the time. It’s familiar, easy and reassuring to the budding toddler. But a new study suggests that prolonged bottle use may have repercussions down the road.

Researchers from Ohio State University College of Public Health assessed data from a study of 6,750 children on lifestyle habits and height and weight, finding that about 22% still drank from a bottle at 24 months. By age 5 1/2, 22.9% of children who were drinking from a bottle at 24 months were obese, compared to 16.1% of children who were not drinking from a bottle at age 2.

The results were published online Thursday in the Journal of Pediatrics.

The researchers wrote:


“Prolonged bottle use may lead to the child consuming excess calories, particularly when parents are using the bottle to comfort the child rather than to address the child’s hunger or nutritional needs.”

They acknowledge that they lacked data on the children’s physical activity or details about their diet, saying children given a bottle at older ages may have been more likely to consume sugar-sweetened drinks or have been less likely to be exclusively breast-fed.

But they nonetheless concluded that 12 months is probably a reasonable point at which to stop using the bottle. Other health experts, most notably those associated with the American Academy of Pediatrics, agree.

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