How to Find the Best Bottle Nipple Shape for Your Baby
This is a guest post by Amy Peterson, BS, IBCLC of BreastandBottlefeeding.com
Choosing a bottle for your baby can feel like choosing which car to buy. You may
have to test drive a few before you find the one that will work best for your baby.
Learning about bottles before “test driving” them with your baby may help simplify
Most babies start with a slow flow nipple. However, the flow rate of bottle nipples
is not regulated. This means that even though bottles are labeled as “slow,” one
may flow much faster than another. The best flow for your baby will allow your
baby to have a comfortable swallow rhythm, swallowing after every one or two
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Bottles are labeled as standard (also called narrow) and wide. These terms
simply describe the width of the bottle where you pour in milk. These terms do
not describe what a baby’s latch will look like on the bottle.
Bottles have unique venting systems. Venting controls how milk flows out of the
bottle. Mixing brands—like using Brand A nipple on Brand B bottle—will cause
flow problems. Sometimes no milk will flow at all. Take care to not mix different
brands of bottle pieces accidentally.
Now that you know about bottles, how will you know when you’ve landed on the
right nipple for your baby? The best bottle is the one your baby can feed most
effectively with. Your baby’s lips should seal around the nipple so no milk leaks
during sucking; babies shouldn’t need to wear a bib while bottle feeding. Also,
your baby should look calm while feeding, swallowing comfortably.\
If you plan to breastfeed and offer a bottle, do your best to match your baby’s
mouth placement on your breast with his mouth placement on a bottle. It is
important that the nipple you choose:
- reaches deeply into your baby’s mouth
- allows your baby’s lips to rest on a portion of the nipple base, just as your baby’s lips rest on your areola during breastfeeding
- helps your baby maintain a wide gape while bottle-feeding