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Does My Baby Need a Fast or Slow-Flow Bottle Nipple?

fast or slow-flow bottle nipple

Oftentimes, the packaging for bottle nipples includes an age range, such as 0-3 months or 3-6 months. This can make parents feel as though their baby should be moving up in nipple sizes as they get older, but if the faster-flowing nipples are too fast for their baby, it can feel as though there may be something wrong. Know when to offer a fast or slow-flow bottle nipple.

Choosing the right nipple flow is a common concern. However, there is no developmental reason why a baby needs a faster-flow nipple as long as they are feeding well and gaining weight as well. In fact, most of the time, our babies feed better with a slow-flow bottle nipple. 

Here Are A Few Signs Your Baby May Need A Fast-Flow Nipple:

  • They suddenly seem frustrated during bottle-feeding when they were previously feeding well on the bottle.
  • Bottle feeds take longer than 30 minutes and your baby is not otherwise upset or having other issues on the bottle.
  • They are sucking so hard on the bottle that they are fully collapsing the nipple.

Alternatively, Here Are A Few Signs Your Baby May Need A Slow-Flow Nipple:

  • They are not able to coordinate a suck, followed by a swallow, followed by a breath in and out their nose. You may notice your baby sucks and swallows or gulps several times followed by a breath or a series of breaths. 
  • They cough, choke, or seem to feel congested during or after feeds.
  • Your baby spills milk out of the side of their mouth while they eat.
  • They seem upset when eating.
  • They drink a small amount of milk quickly and then refuse the rest of the bottle.

If you have any questions or concerns regarding your child’s bottle-feeding skills, please discuss this with your pediatrician. A feeding evaluation with a speech-language pathologist or occupational therapist may be warranted to help identify the cause of your baby’s difficulty with feeding.

Kristen is a Speech-Language Pathologist and Certified Lactation Counselor with years of experience specializing in breastfeeding, bottle feeding, transitioning to solids, and picky eating. She supports families with issues ranging from common feeding problems to complex medical feeding concerns.

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