Feeding ear infections

As common an act as feeding your baby can affect how often he or she gets ear infections. Infants, and toddlers, eustachian tubes are much shorter than those of adults and, because they are surrounded mostly with bone, are not flexible enough to withstand blockage. As a result, bacteria in food not only can make them sick but can also be introduced to the ear via the throat.

The problems lie mostly in improper bottle-feeding. If the child's head is not at the correct angle, food itself can flow back into the throat and block the eustachian tube, providing another possibility of ear infection. Poorly sterilized bottles and nipples can introduce bacteria to the middle ear, also leading to infection.

Breast-feeding is the least likely way for infants to get ear infections from mealtime. The milk is generally sterile, especially if the mother is disease-free and careful about what medicines she takes and what she eats. In addition, it is difficult to breast-feed at an improper angle. If breast-feeding is not consistently possible, following these simple guidelines for bottle-feeding from Playtex Nursing System can improve your child's chances against ear infection:

Keep your child's head higher than his body to prevent liquid from flowing into the middle ear, which can cause infections.

Do not put a child to bed with a bottle. Feeding while a child is on his back can cause ear infections, tooth decay, and even choking.

Using collapsible, disposable plastic bottle liners can reduce the need for bottle sterilization.

Thoroughly wash nipples and reusable bottles in warm, soapy liquid.

Sterilize new bottles and nipples before first use.

Always wash hands before preparing formula or "express" breast milk.

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