Everything You Need to Know About Baby Bottle Nipples

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Published On
09 May, 2022
Read Time
4 minutes

When it comes to bottle feeding your baby, it can be tricky to figure out which nipple type and size to choose, or when it might be time to move up to the next nipple level.

We've put together this handy 'asked and answered' guide for parents to help you understand the different sizes, styles, and flow rates of baby bottle nipples.

How many bottles and nipples should I have?

How many bottles and nipples you need depends on how often you plan to use bottles to feed your baby. If you're only going to be using bottles once a day or just on occasion, then you might decide to just buy one main bottle and nipple and maybe one extra as a backup. It's probably best to have at least two so that if lost, damaged or unclean you have a backup

However, newborns can feed anywhere between 8-12 times over a 24-hour period. So, if you're bottle feeding a newborn, then it's a good bet to opt for four to six bottles and nipples to get started with, then see how you go from there.

What nipple size should I be using for my baby?

Most baby bottles offer varying nipple levels for different age ranges (usually slow flow for 0+ months, medium flow for 3+ months, and fast flow for 6+ months), meaning you can approximately judge which nipple size might be the best based on your baby's age.

All Tommee Tippee bottles come with a slow flow nipple, designed to suit a newborn baby to help them get used to drinking milk from a bottle. Having said that, every baby is different, so it's a good idea to base your decision on a mix of the above, and your baby's own unique eating habits.

Different nipples for different ages

Our nipples come in different flow rates to keep up with your growing baby (and their growing appetite).

The flow rate of a nipple depends on the size, shape, or number of holes in the tip, which then affects how quickly milk flows into your baby's mouth.

They’re marked with a number or letter to indicate the flow rate.

  • 0 = Extra Slow: For use from birth.
  • 1 = Slow: For newborns and babies below three months. 
  • 2 = Medium: For babies aged three months and up. 
  • 3 = Fast: For babies aged six months and up. 
  • X = Vari: For use from birth. The X cut in the tip means they can control the flow and feed at the pace that’s most comfortable for them.
  • Y = Thick: For use with thicker feeds from six months, the Y-cut lets thickened milk flow easily.

When to change bottle nipple size

You can use the age brackets of each nipple size to gauge when it's time to move up a size and/or flow rate, but your baby will also let you know when it's time to change, or even if you've moved up too quickly.

Signs that it's time to move up a nipple size...

  • Becoming impatient or aggravated when eating
  • Taking longer than 20 mins to finish a feed or they fall asleep on the bottle
  • Sucking hard and/or the nipple collapsing in on itself

Signs that the nipple you're using is too big...

  • Gulping or hard swallowing
  • Coughing
  • Gagging
  • Excess milk dripping out of the mouth
  • Refusing to eat

Why is it important to sterilize both bottles and nipples?

Sterilizing your baby's bottles is vital, particularly for babies under one year because during this time they are even more vulnerable to harmful bacteria.

Be sure to clean all baby bottles and nipples thoroughly in hot soapy water after each use before you sterilize them.

To some babies, yes nipple size matters. This is because the size and flow rate of different sized nipples might not always suit your baby's feeding habits. But it's pretty common for a baby to be perfectly content with one nipple size the whole time they're bottle feeding, but the flow rate will need to change over time as they develop. All Tommee Tippee nipples are the same size, but with different flow options.

If the hole in a baby bottle nipple is too large and the flow rate is too fast for your baby, then it is possible for excess air to flow through with the milk and increase the likelihood of reflux.

Nipples take quite a lot of hammering from little gums and teeth, so they need to be changed regularly. We recommend replacing nipple every two months or at the first sign of any damage or weakness.

All of our bottles except the 340ml version come with slow flow nipple as standard, as they're best for newborns and most parents generally stock up on bottles before baby arrives. Our 340ml bottle comes with a medium flow nipple. As your baby grows and can feed more quickly, you can buy faster flowing replacement nipple.

We have medium flow nipples, which most babies are ready for at around three months, and a fast flow nipple which is best from around six months. The ages are only guides though - you know your baby better than anyone and will be able to tell when they're ready for a faster flow.