There is also an old-wives-tale that says a baby will get ear infections if the baby is breastfed whilst lying down. This is not true; in fact breastfeeding actually reduces the risk of a baby getting ear infection over that of bottle-feeding.
Ear infection from feeding usually comes about by milk flowing into the baby's ear, where the warmth of the ear combined with the wetness and sugar of the milk provide a perfect breeding ground for germs. This is true for both breast milk and formula milk. However the mother's nipple is wonderfully designed, so that milk will only flow when the baby sucks. Thus, there is less chance of breast milk running down into the child's ear during feeding. Bottle nipples, however, aren't so well designed, and it is quite easy for milk to leak out of the nipple even when the child has stopped sucking. This is what makes ear infections more prevalent in formula fed babies rather than those fed on breast milk; it has nothing to do with the milk but everything to do with the mechanics.
Therefore, if you are feeding your baby formula milk you must pay a little more attention to prevent ear infection. First thing to be aware of is that formula milk, unlike breast milk, is a foreign substance and usually contains higher level of sugar; remember warmth, dampness and sugar are what germs thrive on. Also, even when feeding baby in a sitting position, it is still possible for milk to find its way into the baby's ear, so get a look out for this. Most importantly, never leave the bottle in the baby's mouth over long periods of time, allowing the baby to feed itself. This is a practice that is often done by some mothers when putting baby to bed. You're your baby is unsupervised; it is quite easy for milk to enter the ear. This habit, can also lead to something called bottle-feed tooth decay. Finally, it is important to remember that you must be more careful against infection when you bottle-feed. Breast milk is packed full of mother's own antibodies: formula milk has none of these. And, it is these antibodies that help your baby to ward off infection.
Bottle-feeding is not the only thing that can cause ear infection. Other causes are exposure to cigarette smoke, allergies, using a pacifier, being in a day care center and, so being in close proximity to other children who may have ear infections. Like most aspect of responsible parenting, it is just a matter of being aware of the dangers.
By Robin Cassidy