As parents, we sometimes get quite annoyed or tired when our baby takes forever to be done feeding. And sometimes they feel like they are hungry right after.
When breastfeeding, this can be painful for the mom as sucking on the nipple for too long can lead to soreness which is why many parents choose to use a baby drinking bottle.
Many parents are often confused about various things with bottles such as what nipple size to use or what flow rate to use or even what shape of nipple to use. All your questions will be answered down below but here is a short summary to help you quickly see what bottle nipple size your baby might need:
|Preemie Nipples||0-3 Months|
|Size 1 Nipples||0-3 Months|
|Size 2 Nipples||3-6 Months|
|Size 3 Nipples||6-9 Months|
|Size 4 Nipples||9+ Months|
|Y-Cut Nipples||9+ Months|
Note: Nipple Size and Nipple Level mean the same thing and can be used interchangeably. The Nipples with the same ages provide a bit faster flow if needed compared to the ones before them.
Every woman has a different nipple size and shape, and your baby gets adjusted to that. Similarly, when using a bottle, you get to choose different types of nipple sizes.
This helps the baby feel more familiar with the bottle nipple and allows them to be more comfortable. Some babies might even cry when they are faced with an unfamiliar nipple size.
A lot of times parents are faced with what nipple size to buy and they are often confused about it. Some parents just buy any size hoping it will work but it is something that you need to be careful about.
Why Switch Nipple Sizes?
There are many reasons as to why you might need to switch nipple sizes. One of the main reasons is probably because the nipple you were using for the bottle has worn out.
This happens faster with some materials compared to others but it is always best to have a fresh nipple for your baby.
Another reason is that your baby has grown out of the smaller size. A newborn baby will use nipple sizes that are pretty small.
As your baby grows, they need to eat more and more food which means they need to get more and more milk. Using a nipple with a higher flow rate or a bigger size will let them drink more faster.
Often babies will get frustrated because they need to suck the nipple for so long to get enough milk to satisfy their hunger. This will make your baby angry and make them cry.
Now, a bigger size doesn’t always mean more milk will flow out so you also need to look at flow rate. I will talk more about flow rate below. If your baby is angry about not getting enough milk, then maybe the flow size is too slow.
There are many factors that affect a nipple size and you need to consider all of them to make sure your baby is satisfied. Your baby might even be sensitive to the material used for the nipple.
Different Types Of Nipple Sizes
Now one may think that every brand that makes bottle nipples uses the same guidelines but no they do not. Every baby bottle nipples brand uses their own guidelines to make the sizes. It is best to refer to their guidelines to see what is best recommended for your baby’s age.
Now you might be asking which nipple size I should be using for my baby right? Well, I have summarized it for you down below to help save your time.
Down below I will go further into why each nipple size is meant for each age but you could also refer to the chart at the top of the page to quickly understand the different sizes.
There are some general ages that you will see when buying different nipples for your baby bottle.
Preemie or Level 1 Nipples
They are meant for babies 0-3 months and have a very slow flow. Babies at this age cannot swallow quickly and might choke if the flow is too fast. These nipples limit the flow and are specially made for newborn infants.
Although the next few pics look similar, they have slight differences.
Preemie Nipples are often slower than level 1 nipples and it is best to start with the preemie nipples. These size 1 nipples are often 60% faster than preemie nipples which isn’t that big of a difference. Although the difference between them is tiny, it can still affect your baby in a tremendous way.
Level 2 Nipples
These nipples are a low to medium flow and are best suitable for babies that are 3-6 months. At this point, your baby starts needing more food which requires a higher flow.
Most parents note that these nipples are used when their baby is 3 months old but some babies also find that they start using these nipples when their baby is 4 months old.
If you continue using a lower flow at this point, your baby will most likely get frustrated as they are not getting enough food. These nipples are usually 60% faster than level 1’s but that will depend on which brand you choose to buy.
You might ask me when do you switch to size 2 nipples? Well keep reading down below and you will see more factors that can affect it.
Level 3 Nipples
These size nipples are best designed for babies that are 6-9 months old. These also have a much higher flow rate compared to the previous size nipples.
These size nipples are best designed for babies that are 6-9 months old. These also have a much higher flow rate compared to the previous size nipples.
Level 4 Nipples
These size nipples are designed for babies that are 9 months or older. They allow for a much higher rate of flow for the baby to drink more milk easily.
At this stage, your baby will be more active which means they need more food so they can grow. A faster flow will allow them to eat more food in a quicker amount of time. These size nipples are 50% faster than the size 3 nipples.
These nipples are also designed for babies that are 9 months or older but these are for babies that need a higher flow compared to the size 4 nipples.
Some babies might need more food and these nipples allow them to achieve that.Usually, this means that your baby is much more active or maybe they aren’t digesting the food properly. These type of nipples are also used for foods that are much thicker as the Y-cut allows it to flow much more easily.
Through all these recommendations, you should also consider what the brand you buy from has suggested. They will usually have a much more precise guide on what size nipples to use.
Different Types Of Bottle Nipples
When buying a nipple for your baby bottle, you will notice there are many choices of different options. Your choice of nipple will highly depend on how old your baby is and if they have any certain conditions.
You might also want to choose a nipple that represents your nipple more closely as this will make the baby more comfortable. Although the best way to figure out which nipple your baby needs is done through trial, here are some of the common choices that will help you choose the perfect nipple for your baby.
Baby Bottle Nipple Shapes
You can find countless varieties of shapes for nipples that can satisfy your baby. However, there are a few common ones that usually always do the trick.
This is the most common shape of baby nipples that you can find. They are extremely versatile and have a lot of good benefits to them. They apply an equal amount of pressure on your baby’s gums which helps to prevent any unwanted teeth or jaws growth.
These nipples have a flat side to them which goes along with your baby’s tongue and helps them to suck the milk more easily. It also has a special feature which prevents the baby from ingesting too much air and helps to avoid any clogging of milk during feeding.
Overall, this feeding nipple is best used for newborns as it is designed in a way to help a newborn drink milk more easily
Traditional Or Standard Nipples
These are also commonly found nipples that many parents use. They have a very unique shape with a thin base and nipple tip that is also pretty thin. The good thing about this type of nipple is that they work with a lot of standard bottles which makes it easy for you.
These ones also have a pretty long nipple. You can also find them pretty easily and also for cheap which will help you save up on money.
Naturally Shaped Nipples
As the name suggests, these are bottle nipples that resemble a mother’s breast. These are generally used when you move from breastfeeding to a bottle for your baby as it helps make the transition much easier.
It helps as the baby won’t notice much of a difference due to the similarity in the nipple. It has a wide base and very natural nipples along a with softer and more flexible build structure. It even feels similar to a mother’s breast.
If you were breastfeeding your child but wanted to use a bottle and wanted to know which nipple size is best for moving to a bottle, then this is the one you need. You can also find these nipples in various shapes to mimic different types of breasts.
These are also known as Anti-Vacuum Nipples and are extremely useful. As our babies are young, they cannot control much of what they swallow and they are very sensitive to a lot of things.
When drinking milk from a traditional nipple, a baby might take in a lot of air which can cause problems such as gas, colic, and constant irritability.
These nipples help to prevent that by lowering the amount of air that is taken in by the baby. They do this by having a small vent on the side of the nipple which allows air to enter into the bottle. This prevents a vacuum build-up from taking place inside the baby bottle.
These nipples are usually recommended by your paediatrician if your child has any issues. Also, keep in mind that every baby will have gas as it is a good thing and shows that their digestive system is working. Trying to avoid gas will only lead to more problems.
These are also known as Variable Flow Nipples, so keep a lookout for those words if you are looking to buy these. If you are feeding your baby various liquids such as milk or formula or juices with fibre, you might have to use different types of flow rates which means you need to buy multiple nipples.
A variable flow nipple allows you to change the flow as you want so that you don’t have to own multiple nipples of different kinds. To change the flow, they usually have built-in slots that are easily changeable to change the flow.
These also help make your life way easier as you don’t have to go shuffling around to find the right size nipple for what you want to feed your baby which helps save you a lot of time.
Which Baby Bottle Nipple Shape To Get For My Baby?
This is a question that is quite hard to answer in a general sense. Every baby will have different preferences and some might even have medical requirements for a specific type of nipple.
If you are switching your baby from breastfeeding to bottle then the best nipple shape will be naturally shaped nipples. These will allow your baby to ease in much quicker and without any discomfort.
If you need a nipple that will work with various different fluids and you don’t want to buy a separate nipple for each, then you should buy the multi-flow nipple.
If your doctor has recommended anything about a vented nipple then you should go for that one. These can help with medical conditions that your child might have.
Finally, if you have no idea or don’t fit into any of these, then you should go with the traditional nipples and see how your baby responds to it. If they don’t respond in a good way, try adjusting the sizes or changing the shape of the nipple.
Baby Bottle Nipple Materials
The type of material you decide to use for your baby’s nipple is also important. There are various factors that can affect your choice such as price, and availability but the most important one is how your baby reacts to it.
Some babies might be allergic to a certain type of material or they might find discomfort in it. As we know babies are sensitive little human beings, so the choice of material for the nipple is also an important one.
These are the common choice of nipple for parents with newborns. They have a very distinct brownish yellow colour that we can all recognize. They are so common because they resemble a mother’s breast very closely in terms of the softness.
Babies will generally prefer this material for their bottle nipples but some babies might develop allergies to it later on. These latex allergies will prevent your baby from using a latex nipple and it is something you need to be on the lookout for.
Another thing about these nipples is that you need to replace them every month or so. This is due to the fact that the latex is very soft and weak as a material which when bit a lot by ur baby wears it out. After about a month, the latex nipple will be worn out and will need to be replaced.
This can lead to a much higher amount of money spent on nipples as you need to buy a lot more so that you can have a good nipple for your baby.
Although Latex nipples are more common for newborns, silicone is what most parents will end up using as their baby gets a bit older. These ones are generally transparent and have no colour to them and are common because of various reasons.
Silicone as a material itself is very strong, unlike latex, which means it will hold up well against your baby. As your baby starts chewing on the nipple, due to silicone’s strength it will last way longer and prevent holes in the nipple.
Silicone is also easy to wash and sterilize and can also be put in the dishwasher. It also doesn’t retain the odour or colour of any of the liquids put through it which is a quality of silicone itself.
Due to its strength, silicone nipples will last much longer and require way less replacements compared to latex nipples. The strength also shows when you have a baby that likes to bite a lot.
Which Baby Bottle Nipple Material Is Best For My Baby?
The best choice is to start with a latex nipple as your baby will be much more comfortable with these. Be sure to replace them as they get holes in them and keep new ones ready.
Once your baby is a bit older and starts teething, you can use silicone nipples. These will last longer and let the baby chew on the nipple a bit more
Baby Bottle Nipples Flow Rate
Flow rates depend on the size of the nipple that you buy, however, you can buy larger size nipples with a lower flow rate. This is for babies that feel comfortable with a larger nipple but might need a slower flow.
Flows are generally categorized into:
Slow Flow: Generally for babies that are 0-3 months.
Medium Flow: Generally for babies that are 3-6 months
Fast Flow: Generally for babes that are 6-12 months
When Is The Right Time To Switch Nipple Size?
Although age plays a major role in deciding when to switch out the bottles nipple, there are also various other factors that you should highly consider.
Some of these factors are just looking at how your baby reacts during feeding and after feeding. It doesn’t matter if you are feeding your baby milk or formula. If you look out of these signs, you will be able to easily tell when to switch out the nipple.
Signs To Look Out For To Switch The Baby Bottle Nipple
Taking an extraordinary time to feed such as 30 minutes or more
Keeps hitting the bottle during feeding
Getting angry and kicking stuff around them
Sucking really hard for a long time
Squishing the nipple so it becomes flat
Not eating much but getting hungry immediately after
Keeps on removing the nipple from their mouth
Swallows a lot less and sucks a lot more
A lot of milk left in the bottle
There is absolutely no need to switch nipple sizes if your baby is showing none of these signs. As a parent, you will know when your baby needs a higher nipple size, and you will be able to easily recognize these signs.
It really is something that you have to try for yourself to understand your baby better. You will notice how they react to different nipple sizes and you should act accordingly.
If you are just starting off, use a nipple with a slow flow such as a preemie nipple. It’s always better to try slower ones as they pose less of a risk to the baby.
Tips For A BreastFeed Baby
Choosing a nipple for a baby that was breastfeed is completely different for one that wasn’t. First, you should choose a nipple that mimics a real breast such as the naturally shaped nipples. This will help the baby ease in quickly and make them comfortable.
You should also use the slowest flow nipple that you can find. This is because babies usually work really hard when sucking from a mother’s nipple, so if you give them a fast flow nipple they will end up taking in too much milk.
Compared to other babies, you most likely won’t need to use a higher flow and it is better not to because your baby will get used to a higher flow. This is a bad thing because if you try to breastfeed them again, they will get frustrated about the slow flow of milk.
However, if you notice your baby gets frustrated with the bottle but is fine with your breast, then it might be a good choice to get a higher nipple size. Again, trust your own intuition as a parent and see what works best.
But What Size Should I Use If I Only Pump milk?
Parents that only feed their baby through pumping might be confused as to where they fit. However, the same guidelines will apply and if you follow them you will be absolutely alright.
Breast milk is way different from regular milk or formula in many ways. It has a different texture to it, the baby digests it much faster, and it is also much healthier for the baby. Due to the faster digestion, you need to make sure you don’t overfeed your baby as they will get hungry a lot more.
Using a slower flow nipple is also much better as breast milk is usually pretty thin and will not need much effort on the baby’s side to suck it. Using a larger flow nipple will lead to many problems.
Why Does My Baby Seem Unhappy With The Nipple Size?
As you have read above, nipples have various factors that you need to take into consideration. Every slight detail can be changed such as the angle of the nipple, the length of it, the size and even materials.
Now if your baby is still unhappy after trying out various nipples, then the problem isn’t the bottle nipple itself. It could be possible that your baby has some medical issues, or maybe they are going through some phase, or they could be teething, or it could even be due to the temperature of the milk being too high.
All these minor things could be affecting your baby so these are also things you should watch out for. Along with that, it could also be that your breast milk has a high lipase which you could be a misunderstanding as your baby being hungry.
Lipase is something that helps your baby digest food, however, too much of it can cause the digestion to happen too quickly which leads to more hunger.
How To Switch The Baby Bottle’s Nipple Size?
This process is quite easy to do and can be done pretty quickly. This process will be different depending on the brand and type of nipple but most of them will be similar.
Step 1: Unscrew the top of the baby bottle and keep the bottle to the side. It is a good idea to sanitize each part of the baby bottle.
Step 2: Push the nipple to remove it, wash it and keep it to the side. Now insert the nipple you want to use into the bottle cap.
Step3: Once you make sure the nipple is in place, add any attachments to the nipple. Now screw the cap back onto the bottle.
Every brand will come with a set of instructions to help you through this process. If your certain brand does not come with one, you can try googling for it or even ask us and we will help you.
Dangers Of Changing Nipple Sizes
Using a faster flow nipple can come with many risks to your baby which is why it is always better to start with a slower flow. If you use a flow that is too fast, your baby might have too much milk in their mouth which their system cannot handle.
This leads to their digestive tract being blocked and can cause many issues such as suffocation. It can also have bad effects on their digestion.
Babies cannot control how much they swallow so you need to control that with your nipple. It is also possible that your baby might be swallowing too much air which will lead to many problems related to gas in your baby’s stomach.
How To Make Sure The Nipple Size Is Correct
One of the best ways to see if you are using the right nipple size is to check for any symptoms that your baby might be showing. Wrong nipple sizes can lead to many issues such as:
Suffocating on the milk
Milk spilling out of their mouth
A lot of crying
Discomfort for baby
If you notice any of these symptoms or the ones above, then it might be because you are using the wrong nipple size.
To Sum It All Up...
Searching for the right nipple size is something that you will have to do a lot of trial and error with. It certainly will not be something that you will be able to know instantly.
Every baby is different and as a parent, you need to understand your baby. Some toddlers might use the same size for many months while some might need to go up a size in a couple weeks.
Always be on the lookout for different signs and symptoms. If you ever think anything is unordinary, then it is best to go to your doctor to get your baby checked out.
Do you have any stories on how you find out which nipple to use? Let us know down below.