If bottle propping is one of your dark parenting secrets to get you through the day, an 18-year-old mom is hoping her tragic experience might change your mind. Chloe Masters lost her 4-month-old son Alex in 2015, but it wasn't until last week that a coroner from the United Kingdom confirmed that the unattended baby died from choking on milk after a bottle was propped into his mouth.
Suffering from severe back pain, Masters had left Alex in the care of his godmother, Claire Sawyer, overnight. According to the BBC, when the mom questioned Sawyer about her baby's death, the godmother said she fell asleep after giving him a bottle of milk on the sofa. But, at the hearing, Sawyer said she had left Alex in a car seat feeding from a bottle of milk propped up with a blanket. She woke up 30 minutes later to find the baby had leaned over his car seat, not breathing, with a blanket over his face.
Alex died after being taken to Lincoln County Hospital in England. A postmortem exam found that Alex had inhaled milk into his lungs.
"He was my world. He was always happy and smiling, and he loved to make sure everyone was up early in the morning. He turned me into a completely different person," the mom told local news Lincolnshire Live. "Never, ever, ever, bottle prop under any circumstances. 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."
Choking can occur when Baby falls asleep before finishing the bottle. That's because instead of swallowing the constant stream, Baby may breathe in the liquid, making it go down the wrong tube.
Choking can occur when Baby falls asleep before finishing the bottle.
The American Academy of Pediatrics says parents should never prop the bottle and leave Baby feeding alone: "Not only will you miss the opportunity to bond with her while she feeds, but there’s also a danger that she’ll choke or the bottle will slip out of position. Propping the bottle also increases the risk of ear infections. We do not recommend devices to hold a bottle in a baby's mouth—they could be dangerous."
According to Phoenix Children's Hospital, bottle propping can also lead to tooth decay. Also known as "baby bottle mouth," the liquid would sit in Baby's mouth as he starts to fall asleep and swallows less, causing painful rotting.
"It is always, for me, despite doing this for many years, always a great tragedy dealing with an inquest of a baby's death," the coroner told Lincolnshire Live. "What I would say, which I am not saying to lecture, perhaps what has come out of this is the great danger of bottle propping."
Like feeding, bathing can be one of the great bonding experiences with your baby. Throw in some bubbles and rubber duckies, and parents and children can laugh, talk, sing and wash away the day's troubles. To make bath time as safe as it is enjoyable, there are some basic steps -- using non-slip bath mats, adjusting the hot water heater to 120 degrees or less and never leaving a child unattended and more -- to ensure a danger-free experience, experts say.