The flow of a bottle nipple refers to the ease and speed with which breast milk or formula passes through the nipple when a baby sucks. Nipples have a flow rate that indicates flow to enable parents to purchase nipples that match a baby’s age and strength for sucking. Slow flow rates are suitable for younger babies, and faster flow rates enable older babies to swallow more quickly, reports KidsHealth.
Purchase a nipple at a flow rate that matches your baby’s age to begin testing the flow rate. Fill the bottle with breast milk or formula to test the flow rate.
Turn the bottle upside down and note the number of drops of liquid that drip from the nipple. The nipple should release only a few drops of breast milk or formula, and then it should stop, states the Similac website.
Hold your baby in a reclined position and offer the bottle to see how the flow rate matches his sucking ability. If the flow rate is appropriate for your baby, he should drink comfortably and the feeding should take approximately 10 to 15 minutes, states Pigeon, a baby product manufacturer.
Adjust the flow rate to a faster-flow nipple if your baby seems to suck too vigorously. A collapsed nipple indicates overly vigorous sucking, reports Pigeon. Your baby may become frustrated and cry if she needs to work too strenuously to get milk.
Adjust the flow rate to a slower flow rate if your baby seems overwhelmed by the amount of milk flowing through the nipple. If your baby coughs and gags with a fast flow of milk, your baby needs a slower-flow nipple.
Test the flow rate of a different nipple after you move up or down for your baby’s flow rate needs. If the flow rate is correct for your baby, he should suck happily without collapsing the nipple or gagging on excess milk, and the feeding should take approximately 10 to 15 minutes.