1. Prolonged bottle feeding
It is common to see 2 to 3 year-olds being regular bottle users, and being put to sleep with a bottle of milk at bedtime. Most parents are unaware that such prolonged bottle feeding is bad for their toddlers, as it can lead to an aggressive form of tooth decay and poorly aligned teeth. Studies have also shown that bottle-fed toddlers are at a higher risk of developing obesity. Furthermore, it may affect their interest in solid food as they would prefer to suck rather than chew.
Hence, it is best that the transition from bottle to cup feeding is initiated early, between 12 to 18 months. Delaying this, often makes the transition more difficult for the child.
It is only normal to experience some resistance from your child during the initial stage of this switch, but be assured that with consistency and encouragement, your child will be weaned off the bottle in no time.
2. Poor feeding practices
Another common mistake that parents are making is spoon-feeding their child while the child is engrossed with playing their toys or watching shows on the TV (or iPad). Distraction during mealtime can result in a child having poor appreciation and disinterest in their meals.
Generally, most babies can feed themselves with their fingers by 12 months old, and hold a spoon by themselves by their 15 to 18 months. Self-feeding by 18 to 24 months should be actively encouraged as it helps them to develop fine motor skills while also exposing their senses to new textures, tastes and smells. It also inculcates a sense of independence where they are better able to respond to hunger and stop eating once they are full. Self-feeding may take a longer time and can be messy, but it is an important and rewarding learning experience for your baby’s development.
3. Delay in dental check
It is important to note that good dental health starts from baby teeth! Most parents overlook the importance of baby teeth and make the mistake of delaying their child’s first visit to the dentist.
Undetected tooth decay can lead to gum infection and pain, resulting in urgent dental care and cost. Severe decay may even necessitate teeth extraction under general anesthesia. These problems can be best prevented by regular dental checks. It is recommended to schedule your child’s first dental visit 6 months after the eruption of his or her first tooth, or by the time he or she is 1 year old. Apart from the check-up, you will also be getting professional advice on how to maintain good oral hygiene for your child at the dentist.
The following article was written by Dr Shemela Appan, our senior consultant and Paediatrician at StarMed. Dr Appan has been a Singapore Ministry of Health accredited paediatrician for the past 39 years, with special interests in children’s growth, puberty, asthma and allergies. She has had 29 years of private paediatric experience as a partner in The Children’s Medical Centre in Bishan. Click here to book an appointment with her today.