While many parents spend ample time trying to decide on the right kind of bottle, in the end, many of them choose based on a recommendation without understanding. Similar to the plethora of bottles to choose from, bottle nipples come in a variety of styles. Each style has unique features that can make it easier to find the one that is right for you. Understanding the types of nipples available to you is part of bottle feeding basics and below you can find more information on nipples.

It’s All in the Design

One crucial aspect of bottle feeding basics is understanding how the nipples used in bottles are designed. Most nipples fit into one of six primary designs: traditional, naturally shaped, orthodontic, anti-vacuum (or vented), multi-flow, and slotted multi-flow. The traditional nipple is the most common nipple found on bottles. They are bell-shaped with a thinner base and tip. Naturally shaped nipples are shaped most like the nipple on a real breast. They are designed to promote a good latch and to help your baby easily transition between breastfeeding and bottle-feeding. Orthodontic nipples elongate after repeated sucking and encourage the tonguing action that babies use when breastfeeding. Anti-vacuum nipples are designed with a tiny hole to let air into the bottle and prevent the nipple from collapsing. This reduces the discomfort a baby may experience during bottle feeding. Multi-flow nipples can be adjusted to a slow, medium, or fast flow rate of milk. Slotted multi-flow nipples are also adjustable but are designed to accommodate cereal or thick juices.

Materials Matter

Currently, all nipples are made from either latex or silicone. Therefore, it is useful to be familiar with the properties of these materials so you can make an informed decision. Latex nipples are soft and flexible with a golden-brown color. Unlike latex, silicone nipples are clear, heat-resistant, and dishwasher safe. They are also less porous and therefore less prone to bacteria than latex nipples.

Wear and Tear

Just like everything else, proper maintenance is key in bottle feeding. Nipples should be replaced approximately every three months or earlier if you notice any of the following indications of deterioration:

  • Breast milk or formula pours out as a stream
  • Discoloration – it is normal for nipples to turn cloudy after sterilization.
  • Thinning – to test a nipple’s strength, pull hard on the bulb. The nipple should immediately rebound into its original shape.
  • Stickiness or swelling
  • Cracks, tears, or breaks – damaged nipples should be immediately replaced as pieces could break off and become a choking hazard.