Many parents find selecting the right bottle nipple size a challenge. If you have recently switched from breastfeeding to bottle-feeding your baby, you might also be curious about the perfect nipple size for your baby. You may be surprised to know that bottle nipple sizes aren’t the same for all babies. There are many levels of nipple sizes that are designed to suit your baby’s age and the required milk supply as per their growth levels.
Since choosing the right nipple size can be confusing for parents, we’re here to help. So, for your baby to feed comfortably and in the right amount, here is a guide to help you choose the right nipple size before you make a purchase. Read on to know more:
What Is Meant By Nipple Levels?
Nipple levels have been categorized by manufacturers depending on a baby’s age. While the brand levels may vary, here is a general guide that will help you:
- Preemie: Level 0
- Newborn (0-3 months): Level 1
- Babies (3-6 months): Level 2
- Babies older than 6 months: Level 3
- Babies 9 months or older: Level 4
The nipple levels mentioned above will differ based on the milk flow rate to your baby. Since younger ones take longer to suckle, they need nipples that enable slow milk flow. Level one nipples are made to mimic breastfeeding as they need the same kind of muscles. When your baby grows, they’ll suckle at a quicker pace. This is when they level up to nipples that enable a quicker milk flow.
When Should You Switch Nipple Levels?
Nipple levels change with age. However, every baby has unique needs. So, their needs are different. While some newborns quickly get accustomed to faster flow, older babies may need nipples with a slower flow rate. How do you know when you need to change to a higher nipple level? Here’s what you need to check:
- If your baby sucks the bottle nipple fiercely, they need to level up. In this case, they may seem restless or frustrated. Your baby may eat too little at each feeding and show signs of hunger later.
- If milk spills out of your baby’s mouth when they suck on the nipple, they need to level down. In this case, your baby may gag, spit-up, cough, or turn away. These fast nipples can cause digestive problems if the baby drinks too quickly. This can cause discomfort to your baby.
No one size fits all in bottle nipple sizes for babies. And, It is important to note that these signs may not be enough to understand whether your baby needs a nipple level change. If your baby is fussy, the reason could be gas or even the taste of the milk (if you feed them expressed milk, and it ends up being spicy because of what you ate). Also, there are chances your baby doesn’t enjoy the nipple, and you might just need to try out other varieties.
What Nipple Size Is Recommended For Breastfed Babies?
If you are newly introducing a bottle to a breastfeeding baby, you have a different set of guidelines to adhere to. If you wish to prevent nipple confusion or the risk that your baby might get too comfortable with the bottle, you must start at “level one”, no matter your baby’s age. Slow-flow nipples need a similar kind of effort as breastfeeding.
If your baby uses nipples with a faster flow, milk supply is easier and in larger quantities. This may lead your baby to refuse breastfeeding as the bottle will give them more milk with less struggle. Bottle nipples tend to be more firm and are easier to latch on to. It ensures a more consistent milk flow than breasts as the latter requires constant sucking by the baby. Choosing the slowest flow bottles is the key to success here, especially if you plan to balance breastfeeding and bottle-feeding. If you are having issues choosing the correct nipple size for your baby, speak to your lactation consultant, as they might be able to guide you well.
A good milk supply is critical for your baby to be happy and healthy. Also, it’s important to note that some babies may never need to upgrade to a greater nipple size. However, as a parent, you need to pay careful attention to the cues they give away. If it seems fine, change it. But bear in mind that bottle-feeding isn’t the only way to soothe a baby. In fact, new parents should ensure their baby isn’t overfed, or there is no unnecessary reliance on bottles for soothing a baby at all times. Did you follow similar guidelines while shifting to a bottle for your baby? Do share your experiences with us in the comments section below.