Coroner Warns About Bottle Feeding Risks After Death Of A 4-month-old Boy

Coroner Warns About Bottle Feeding Risks After Death Of A 4-month-old Boy

Baby Alex Masters' death has once again started the discussion on bottle feeding risks, especially due to propped up bottles. Read on to know.

How many of you give your baby their bottle while it is “propped up?” Know that there is a huge safety risk in doing this. In the UK, Senior Lincolnshire coroner Stuart Fisher has warned new parents against bottle feeding risks. Caregivers must especially be careful of feeding babies from “propped up” bottles, he has advised. 

His verdict comes two years after the death of four-month-old Alex Masters on October 3, 2015 in the UK.

Baby Masters’ death was a result of a tragic bottle feeding risk

Little Alex reportedly died after choking on milk as his godmother, Claire Sawyer slept on a sofa nearby. During an inquest that Alex’s mother Chloe initiated, some shocking details of the death were unearthed.

It was uncovered that Sawyer placed the baby in his car seat. She then propped up a milk bottle on a blanket for the baby to feed from. Sawyer had fallen asleep. 

However, when she got up, she reportedly found him with blue lips and rushed him to a nearby hospital. But the little one could not be revived.

His post mortem report revealed that his lungs were filled with milk. 

Based on the evidence discussed during the inquest, Fisher concluded that one must never leave babies alone with propped up bottles. It is one of the biggest bottle feeding risks, he shared. 

Parents must keep babies away from propped up bottles

“Parents or carers should not take their eyes off a baby if they are being fed milk from a propped bottle,” advised Fisher. He also pointed out the dangers of sleeping while caring for a baby. 

The baby’s grieving mother also spoke out about the dangers of propped up bottles. 

“Never, ever, ever, bottle prop under any circumstances,” Chloe told Lincolnshire Live as reported by PopSugar. “You could be put in this situation with your own child. I did it and thought it would never cause anything like this and I was supervising. But people can lose concentration.”

bottle feeding risks

While it may seem convenient, a propped-up bottle leads to some of the biggest bottle feeding risks. | Image courtesy: Pixabay

One of the biggest bottle feeding risks: propped-up milk bottles

It is true that when you feed your baby with a bottle, there are many risks. One of them comes from using a propped-up bottle.   

A propped-up bottle is one that has a small elevation, which can be provided with anything — a blanket, toy or even a pillow. More often than not, it is likely to be a fatal choking hazard, as was the case with  baby Alex.

While it may seem convenient, a propped-up bottle leads to some of the biggest bottle feeding risks. Here’s how:   

1. Your baby can choke

When you prop up your baby’s bottle, he loses control over how quickly or slowly he can drink. A constant stream of breast milk or formula can cause choking, especially if comes down faster than your baby can consume. 

It is also possible that your baby may breathe in the fast flowing liquid causing blockage of the nasal passage and his lungs. 

2. Lung problems

As mentioned in a previous article, if a baby is in bed with a bottle (especially if he is sleeping) then the pathway to the lungs is completely open for air to pass. Small amounts of liquid could find their way down the air path and settle in the lungs.

This could cause pneumonia and other lung problems for your baby.

3. Suffocation and restricted breathing 

You increase the risk of suffocation based on what you use to prop the bottle. If you place soft bedding, pillows and soft toys or blankets inside the crib, you increase the chances of SIDS as well as suffocation. 

There are chances that all of these objects get entangled with each other and with the baby. 

4. Early tooth decay 

Propping up milk bottles can also lead to early tooth decay. According to the American Dental Association, “Baby teeth hold space in the jaw for adult teeth.” So if a baby tooth is lost early due to tooth decay, it can push the teeth next to it into an empty space. This may lead to crooked teeth since all of them start overlapping with each other. 

Propping up leads to tooth decay because excess fluid is constantly flowing into the teeth. And the baby’s teeth have longer contact with sugar in his food. On the other hand, when your baby is upright, his saliva constantly cleanses the teeth. 

5. Ear infection

When your baby is laying flat on his back, a pool of liquid gets accumulated at the back of his mouth. If this liquid backs up and remains as is for a long time, it can also accumulate in the Eustachian tubes. This can lead to an ear infection. 

Any doctor you talk to will advise you not to put your baby to bed with a bottle of milk to fall asleep. There are just too many things that can go wrong. Therefore, it’s best to avoid such practices to keep your baby safe and healthy.


Sources: Yahoo, BBC, Livestrong, PopSugar

ALSO READ: 8 helpful tips on bottle feeding your baby

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Written by

Deepshikha Punj

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