What Breast-Feeding Can Do For Your Baby’s Mouth That Bottle-Feeding Cannot

Nursing has made a comeback as the preferred feeding method for many reasons. First of all, breast-feeding is biologically normal. Babies who are nursed tend to have fewer allergies, better immune systems, and better mouth development than those who are bottle-fed. A popular resource on breast-feeding is The Nursing Mother’s Companion, by Kathleen Huggins. Breastfeeding Made Simple, by Nancy Mohrbacher and Kathleen Kendall Tackett, is a newer research-based book. If you are breast-feeding, I suggest that you purchase a book for your reference.

I would like to see all mothers breast-feed their babies. However, I know that this is not realistic for some. Therefore, I want you to know the benefits of breast-feeding, you can help counteract some of the negatives of bottle-feeding by understanding what breast-feeding does for mouth development.

1-When your baby breast-feeds, the breast is drawn deeply into the mouth. This helps to maintain the shape of the hard palate(the roof of the mouth). A bottle-fed baby may develop a high, narrow hard palate due to the forces involved in bottle-feeding. If you are bottle-feeding, I will teach you an exercise in chapter 5 to help keep your baby’s hard palate in shape.
2-A breast-feeding mom feeds her baby on alternate breasts. This provides stimulation and exercise to both sides of the infant’s face head, and body.
3-Mouth structures move in a more sophisticated manner during breast-feeding than during bottle-feeding. This leads to better mouth development.
4-Development of the face, jaw, dental arches, palates(hard and soft), teeth, and speech is better in breast-fed infants than bottle-fed infants. Bottle-feeding may result in underdeveloped jaws and subsequent orthodontic problems. We will discuss this further in the future.
5-Breast-feeding supports sophisticated suck-swallow-breathe synchronization, allowing the structures of the mouth, throat, and respiratory system to move together as a unified oral-motor organ. 

According to Dr.David C.Page, considered a pioneer in functional jaw orthopedics, breast-feeding is the best way to ensure proper jaw growth. The jaw is the keystone for the development of the other structures around it(ie, “the gateway to the human airway”). Dr. Page recommends”exclusive” breast-feeding for the first 3 to 6 months, with continued breast-feeding until 12 months. This is similar to the recommendations of the American Academy of Pediatrics. Dr Page says that the movements of breast-feeding assist jaw growth, which is most rapid during the first year of life.

Dr. Page does not recommend bottle-feeding. He says that” bottle, pacifier, and digit sucking create backward destructive forces on both upper and lower jaws.” These forces can narrow the dental arches and hard palate and ultimately cause malocclusion. Some of these malocclusions include cross-bite, crooked teeth, and other jaw problems. These difficulties and what to do about them will be discussed later.


According to Dr. Page, research shows that bottle-fed infants are generally sicker than successfully breast-fed infants. This makes sense if you think about a high, narrow hard palate making the nasal and sinus areas smaller. A number of studies have shown that breast-fed babies are less likely to develop allergies, ear and other respiratory infections, insulin-dependent diabetes, and gastrointesinal problems. They are also less likely to be overweight and to die from sudden infant death syndrome. Dr. Page has a website at www.smilepage.com

Dr. Brian Palmer also has a website containing important breast-feeding information at www.BrianPalmerDDS.com He discusses topics such as the importance of breast-feeding to total health, breast-feeding and frenulums, SIDS, otitis media(ie, middle-ear problems), and obligate nose breathing. Dr. Palmer is the author of the journal article, “The Influence of Breastfeeding on the Development of the Oral Cavity: A Commentary.”

Dr. Ashley Montagu, a social scientist, presents significant research on breast-feeding in the book Touching: The Human Significance of the Skin. In my opinion, every mother- and father-to-be should read the chapter on breast-feeding in this book. It will help parents make a more informed decision on how to feed their newborn because it is based on research from many different fields of study and cultures.

Dr. Montagu discusses one study of 173 children followed from birth to 10 years of age. Babies who were breast-fed had four times fewer respiratory infections,20 times fewer bouts of diarrhea. 22 times fewer infections of other kinds, eight times fewer cases of eczema, 21 times fewer cases of asthma, and 27 times fewer cases of hay fever. Another study of 383 children indicated that bottle-fed children were nutritionally poorer, more susceptible to childhood diseases, and slower to learn walking and talking than breast-fed children. Both Drs Page and Montagu comment that the research suggests higher intelligence and better physical health in breast-fed children.

The superior physical health of breast-fed children seems to be related to airway development. Breast-feeding supports proper airway development. The airway consists of your baby’s nose, mouth, throat, windpipe, and voice box, leading to the lungs. Airway development is dependent upon appropriate face and jaw growth, and vise versa. Airway obstruction can cause mouth breathing and change face and jaw development. There is a connection between airway obstruction, allergies, asthma, ear problems, sinus problems, reflux, and stress. Obstructive sleep disorders, blood pressure concerns and heart problems can be added to this list. Proper airway development is crucial for your baby’s health.
As you can see, there is a substantial amount of research to support the value of breast-feeding for the good and appropriate mouth and airway development. However, I do not want parents who choose to bottle-feed their babies to become overly concerned. There are activities in other chapters to help you counteract some of the possible negative effects of bottle-feeding. Actually, the activities and exercises in the other chapters are “good” for all babies, whether they are breast- or bottle-feeding. I have frequently assigned these activities to moms and dads whose babies were having difficulty breast-feeding.
While nursing may be a preferred method for many, this passage is an equal-opportunity manual that values whatever choice you make as a parent. You, as a parent, will make the best choice possible for your child and family situation. I respect your decision and want to help you with your child’s feeding and mouth development, whether you breast- or bottle-fed.

*Refer and quote from Diane Bahr,"Nobody Ever Told Me(or My Mother)That!",2010

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