Baby Bottles: When To Change Nipple Flow And Other Questions

when to change nipple flow
Ben_Kerckx / Pixabay

Parenting is quite the experience when it’s your first time. There are so many questions and concerns that you never even considered before your little angel arrived. Baby bottles are a great example of this. When is the right time to change nipple flow? When do you change the nipple on the bottle to a different size? In this article we will discuss this and more that you are a little more prepared when it comes to bottle feeding. Let’s discuss!


What is ‘nipple flow’ and why is it important?

Nipple flow is simply the pace of milk delivery based on the design of the synthetic nipple that you are using for bottle feeding. It could be a fast, slow, or medium flow, and it is an important factor when feeding your child. The primary reason for this is as follows:

  • Dietary needsJust switching nipple sizes at random can cause deficiencies in your child’s diet. Changing the sizes without thought could mean that your child is getting too little nutrition or too much milk at one time. This is not a basis for a stable development.
  • Avoiding straining the baby – If the nipple flow is too slow, your baby has to work harder for less milk. This strains your baby unnecessarily and can cause a dietary deficit as well as stress your baby.
  • Keeping baby from ‘spitting-up’ – Too fast a flow from the bottle’s nipple can be overwhelming, causing your child to cough and to spit up milk. Proper selection of a nipple with the right flow can easily help you to avoid this.

How do you know when to change the nipple size on the bottles?

Typically doctors will recommend that you change the nipple size on the bottles every 3 months. For instance, if you are using a size 1 nipple in May, when do you switch to size 2 nipples? Easy, you would change them at the end of July. The sizes of the nipples used on the bottle will change with your baby’s needs. When to switch to medium flow nipples? When the fast flow is too fast and the slow flow is straining your baby. There is going to be some experimentation involved so that you can find what is just right. So, how do you tell if your baby is using the wrong flow size?

How can you tell if you should change the nipple flow?

when to switch to medium flow nipples
PublicDomainPictures / Pixabay

We’re glad that you asked! There are a number of signs that you can look for that will help you to know if baby might benefit from changing the nipple on the bottle. Some telltale signs that it might be time to change the nipple:

  • Baby is flattening the nipple – If baby is flattening out the nipple then they are likely trying to increase the pace at which the milk is flowing. You will want to move to a faster flow of nipple.
  • Gas – This could mean that baby is getting overwhelmed by a fast milk flow, try switching to something a little slower. If you are using a fast flow nipple, try some medium flow nipples.
  • Pushing away the bottle – Baby may be frustrated with the current milk flow. Try switching to a faster flow nipple.
  • Aggressive sucking on the bottle – This likely means that baby is not getting enough flow and a higher rate of flow nipple is desirable.
  • Getting hungry quickly (but never finishing the bottle) – Another sign of strain, baby is having to work too hard to get all of the milk. A faster flow nipple should remedy this issue.

” Is your child getting enough to eat?”

  • Spitting up – This is a sure sign that you need to switch to a slower flow of nipple. Baby is getting too much milk, too quickly, and a switch is in order to make sure that a proper flow is set and maintained.
  • Feedings take more than half an hour – This is another sign that a nipple flow issue may be at play. You will want to change to a slower nipple if baby is spitting up or a faster one if baby is working constantly but not finishing within half an hour. Typically half an hour is as long as it should take, so if feeding sessions are taking longer then you may want to consider changing out the nipple.

A note of interest  

Once you find a nipple flow that baby likes, you might be able to use that beyond the recommended 3 months. It really depends on the baby and every baby is different. Some like fast flow nipples, others prefer slow, and the key thing that you need to look for is simply this. Is your child getting enough to eat? If your baby is drinking all of their milk and seems content, there is no need to rock the boat. Sometimes just finding the right size is something that you only have to do once (if you are lucky!). If this is the case with your baby, then congratulations! Let them keep eating at the pace that they like and no change is necessary. If you do see some of the signs that we’ve mentioned, however, then you should definitely experiment to find the right nipple flow for your little angel.

bottle nipple sizes
skeeze / Pixabay

Some closing notes

In this article we have discussed what nipple flow means for your baby and why it is so important. Ensuring proper nutrition can be taxing. Sometimes our little ones don’t want to eat for a number of reasons and narrowing it down can take a lot of detective work (especially if baby just likes to be contrary sometimes!). Now that you understand nipple flow and what it means during feeding time you will have one less thing to worry about when it comes to making sure your little one is getting enough to eat. Until next time, Happy feedings!


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