Bottle feeding your baby seems like a simple thing on the surface. Pump some breastmilk or mix up some formula, put it in the bottle, and pop on the top. Right? Well, actually there is a little more to it. The nipples that you use for the bottle, for instance, have a factor that you need to consider called ‘milk flow’ which decides the pace at which your baby is able to consume their meals. In this article we will discuss Avent nipple sizes as well as how they relate to milk flow so that you have all the information that you need to proceed with confidence! If you are ready, let’s discuss!
Avent nipples come in a number of sizes based on their rating of milk flow. So, what is milk flow? Simply like it sounds, the milk flow is the rate at which the milk will flow based on the nipple. Some are designed to be slow, so as not to overwhelm the baby, while others have a faster flow if you feel that your baby is struggling with one of the slower flow nipples. So which one is the right one for your newborn?
Avent nipples size 0
The Avent nipple size 0 has the slowest milk flow and is designed for newborns. This is generally the first that you are going to use, although an Avent nipple size 1 is also good if baby seems to be struggling with the 0. As a general rule the higher the number of nipple size then the higher the milk flow is going to be. For instance, an Avent nipple size 3 is going to be more of a ‘medium’ milk flow range, whereas an Avent nipple size 4 is leaning more on the faster side.
How do I know that I have the right milk flow for my baby?
This is where a little experimentation is called for. Every baby is going to have their own preference with the milk flow. Some will like it slow, others will want a much faster milk flow, and still others are going to prefer a medium level milk flow. Pediatricians recommend changing the nipple every 3 months but one of the good things about milk flow is that some babies will find a favorite and they are okay with particular flow for a much longer time. You will want to try different sizes with your baby to find the right one and then determine when changing will be right with your child specifically. Sadly, there are no shortcuts.
How to know when to change nipples
There are some sure signs that it is time to switch nipples for a faster or a slower milk flow, you just need to know what to look for. Some common signs are as follows:
- Baby is ‘spitting up’ – If your baby is occasionally choking on the milk and spitting it up then this is a sign that the nipple flow is too fast for your baby. Try switching to a slower flow nipple and see how that goes. Some spitting up is normal if baby just happens to be very eager but if it is happening often enough to be noticeable then you may be looking at a milk flow issue.
- Baby is not finishing their bottle – If your baby is not finishing their bottle then this could be a sign that the milk flow is too slow and your baby is getting frustrated. Once you have the proper, faster milk flow then your baby will have an easier time eating and should be finishing their bottles with no issues.
” Feedings should seldom take more than 30 minutes.”
- Baby seems to be straining – If your baby appears frustrated and seems to be strained a bit when eating then you will want to change to a faster milk flow in order to make those feeding sessions easier.
- Long feeding times – A typical feeding should only take 30 minutes. If your baby is taking longer than 30 minutes, try switching one number up on the nipple flow. So if you are using an Avent nipple size 2, for instance, try switching to a 3 to see if you get better results. Feedings should seldom take more than 30 minutes as long as baby is able to eat comfortably.
- Baby is flattening the nipple – This typically means that your baby is not getting enough milk flow with the nipple that they are using. Try switching up one size for a slightly faster flow to see if that takes care of the issue.
Are there any hard and fast rules on nipple size?
Every baby is different but what is most common is that you won’t have to worry about fast-flow nipples until your baby is over 6 months old. Fast flow nipples can overwhelm a child younger than this and so you will likely avoid fast flow nipples unless recommended by your pediatrician. Babies that are under 3 months old are likely always going to be using the slower flow nipples, whereas a baby in the 3 – 6 month age range is going to find the medium nipples preferable when it comes to milk flow.
Again, these are just general rules and will not necessarily apply to your baby. With a little experimentation and patience you should be able to find the nipple with just the right flow for your little one.
So, there you have it. The nipple size that you will need for your baby will vary as they grow older (or in rare cases, might stay exactly the same!). Each baby is unique and so you will need to try some of the different sizes to see which one is going to work best. Just remember that under 3 months it will typically be the slow flow nipples, the medium ones for 3-6 months, and the faster flows for 6 months and beyond. Your baby’s smile will let you know when you’ve got it right!