How to Choose the Size & Flow of a Nipple for Bottle Feeding
Preparing to bottle-feed a baby involves a multitude of choices between various brands of bottles and nipples. The size and flow of the nipple are important factors to ensure that your baby can suck milk or formula through the nipple at a flow rate that is neither too fast nor too slow. Finding the correct nipple may require a process of trial and error until you find one that matches your baby’s needs.
View the nipple sizes within your chosen brand and select a size that fits your baby’s age. Often, the numbered sizes will correspond with babies’ ages, with size 1 nipples for birth to 6 months and size 2 nipples for 6 months and older, states the Similac website.
Choose the slowest flow rate within the nipple size that fits your baby’s age, advises pediatric nurse practitioner Jocelyn Guggenheim, with Boston Newborn Nurse Specialist website.
Feed your baby with the selected nipple and watch the feeding progress to see how your baby handles the nipple. If your baby seems satisfied and only dribbles milk minimally, the flow rate is likely correct for your baby. If your baby chokes or dribbles large amounts of milk out of his mouth, the flow rate is too fast for your baby. If your baby cries and seems frustrated with the flow rate, it’s too slow for your baby.
Select one level faster flow rate nipple for your baby if the slowest flow rate caused frustration. Change nipple brands if the slowest flow rate within the other nipple brand was too fast for your baby. You might also try a preemie flow rate nipple for your baby to find a slower flow rate.
Use the new nipple to assess your baby’s feeding. Continue to make adjustments with different brands of nipples and flow rates until you find a nipple that your baby uses comfortably, with minimal dribbling and frustration. An average feed for a baby should take approximately 20 minutes, according to the Palo Alto Medical Foundation. If a feeding takes less time than this, the baby may take in too much air and gas problems may result. If a feeding takes more time than this, the baby may feel frustrated.