Teat Size Explained

bottle tops

Bottle teat’s come in all shapes and sizes.

In this post I will just be discussing teat size. Normally, if using bottles with their full term infant, most parents will start with a level 1 teat. There are smaller teats available for premature babies.

Normally, if using bottles with their full term infant, most parents will start with a level 1 teat. There are smaller teats available for premature babies.

New parents often don’t put much thought or research into choosing a bottle type. They will often go with the brand that is most widely promoted in pharmacies/supermarkets, or take recommendations from friends or family.

Each brand have their own shape and teat sizing, so a level 1 for one brand could be quite a different flow to a level 1 of another brand. Also bear in mind that the consistency of formula is different to breastmilk, and there are certain brands of specialist formula’s that are thicker, therefore a larger teat size is needed.

If you are finding that your baby is taking an hour to drink 1-2oz, and is falling into a cycle of: sleeping while feeding, then waking up distraught with hunger, then falling asleep again after a few minutes of sucking, then you may want to increase your teat size. Your baby is likely exhausted from sucking, but not getting enough milk to sustain or satisfy him/her.

Alternatively, if you notice that your baby is gulping, choking, gasping or milk is leaking around the nipple teat, your teat size is too large. Parents often buy a pack of bottles, but not look at the teat size on the pack and end up giving the baby a size 2 teat accidentally.

baby bottle feeding

They key is to watch your baby’s behaviour while feeding.

If however, you are using a level 1 teat and your baby is making clicking noises on the bottle, milk is flowing out the side of their mouth, and you can hear the air whoosh into their tummy (making them very windy), you may want to try a bigger teat size or a different teat brand. If however, this does not help matters, consult a Lactation Consultant or General Practitioner who is used to checking for oral motor function.  Perhaps there is a tongue tie present that is tethering the tongue down so that they cannot use their tongue to control the flow of the milk. This is rare, and is not normally an issue until your baby is about 6-8 weeks old. Up until this, your baby’s strong suck reflex compensated for any functional issue. But by week 6-8, they have been having a difficult time feeding and are becoming aware that feeding is not a place of comfort for them. They may take the bottle initially out of hunger, but after winding you may find it impossible to get the baby to take more, thereby falling into a cycle of snacking all day. These baby’s also tend to gag a lot (their tongue cannot reach the roof of their mouth’s so they are hypersensitive when something touches that area).

It’s important to mention that if your baby is happy on a level 1, and their feeds are relatively efficient, you do not need to move up a teat size simply because they are now over 3 months.

Also if you are breastfeeding and giving bottles, it is important that you remain on a level 1 no matter what age your baby is and that you practice paced latching and feeding. Paced feeding is now recommended for bottle-fed babies as well as breastfed babies as it slows the flow to match your baby’s hunger so that they do not overfeed.

Check out this instructional video on paced bottle feeding from The Coombe Staff: