Bottle Feeding Nipples 101 – Material, Shape, and Flow
The best nipple suits your infant’s developing preferences and supports active feeding to ensure that tiny tummies are contentedly filled. Your baby should be able to form a secure latch to eliminate swallowing air which can lead to gas and discomfort.
Let’s start with materials. The most common today is food-grade silicone, a hypoallergenic, sturdy and easy to clean material with a silky feel.
Latex is another option. Softer than silicone but more porous so it tends to hold onto milk or formula odors which could affect taste. The softness and flexibility also make it more prone to wear, leading to more frequent replacement. Latex may cause allergic reactions for some babies.
A wide range of shapes are available today but basically break down into three categories: standard, breast-like and orthodontic. The standard shape features a narrow base and longer nipple. Breast-like nipples are shaped to mimic the breast with a wider, domed base. Orthodontic nipples have tips designed to follow the shape of the baby’s palate and gums.
Time to talk about flow rates. Nipples may look the same but do have different flow rates ranging from slow to medium to fast. These stages indicate how freely milk flows through and are defined by the size and number of holes on the tip of the nipple.
It’s important to match the flow with your baby’s growing appetite and feeding skill. Too slow could be frustrating for your little one and too fast could lead to gulping or swallowing too much air. A good indication that the flow is too fast is if you see milk bubbling around their mouth.
A good guide for moving up to the next flow rate is if feeding time is taking longer (over 20 minutes), if baby is sucking too hard or becomes fussy or irritable while feeding.
Newborns are just learning how to nurse whether it’s with the breast or a bottle. Start with a slow flow nipple that mimics the natural flow of breast milk to encourage your baby to actively feed. In addition to the proper flow rate, the way you position the bottle and your baby for feeding can help to minimize overeating and excess air ingestion.
A technique of paced feeding is explained in the video below. Bottle feeding in this way encourages your baby to actively work with the bottle in the same way they work with the breast. Speaking of breastfeeding, it’s recommended that if you want to introduce a bottle to your baby you should wait to do so until nursing is well established—up to 4 weeks. This gives your body time to fully adjust and regulate your milk production.
Chicco Paced FeedingVideo courtesy of Valerie Trumbower, DONA Certified Postpartum Doula (PCD) and Certified Lactation Counselor (CLC).
All three qualities we’ve discussed – material, shape and flow – contribute to your baby’s comfort and ease of bottle feeding. At Chicco, we’ve worked hard to develop a bottle AND nipple that parents and babies both love.
Chicco Duo’s Intui-latch® nipple is shaped to mimic the breast when feeding. It is made of soft silicone with a natural, skin-like feel and texture and naturally positions the tongue and lips for an intuitive, secure latch. It features an anti-colic valve for less air ingestion1 and more feeding comfort2. The breast-like slow flow is just right for newborns. The Intui-latch nipple achieved a 9 out of 10 acceptance2 rating when tested with babies 0-6 months old.
Once you’ve decided on the bottles and nipples you’d like to try, the next step is to incorporate them into your feeding routine. Just as your little one is learning how this whole bottle thing works, you’ll be learning how best to feed her – to keep her happy, healthy and content.
You might like our article on “Avoiding the baby bottle blues” where we talk about some feeding basics like positioning and burping.
1. 2018 consumer test in Italy on 246 babies, 0-4m
2. 2018 consumer test in Italy on 446 babies, 0-6m