Newborn baby feeding nipple

Buying and caring for baby bottles and nipples: MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia

Whether you feed your baby breast milk, infant formula, or both, you will need to buy bottles and nipples. You have many choices, so it can be hard to know what to buy. Learn about the different options and how to care for bottles and nipples.

The type of nipple and bottle you choose will mainly depend on which type your baby will use. Some babies prefer a certain nipple shape, or they may have less gas with certain bottles. Others are less fussy. Start by buying a few different types of bottles and nipples. That way, you can try them out and see what works best for you and your baby.

Nipples can be made from latex or silicone.

  • Latex nipples are softer and more flexible. But some babies are sensitive to latex, and it does not last as long as silicone.
  • Silicone nipples last longer and tend to hold their shape better.

Nipples come in different shapes.

  • They can be dome-shaped, flat, or wide. Flat or wide nipples are shaped more like a mother's breast.
  • Try different shapes to see which one your baby prefers.

Nipples come in different flow rates.

  • You can get nipples that have a slow, medium, or fast flow rate. These nipples are often numbered, 1 is the slowest flow.
  • Infants usually start with a smaller hole and slower flow. You will increase the size as your baby gets better at feeding and drinks more.
  • Your baby should be able to get enough milk without having to suck too hard.
  • If your baby is choking or spitting up, the flow is too fast.

Baby bottles come in different materials.

  • Plastic bottles are lightweight and will not break if dropped. If you choose plastic, it is best to buy new bottles. Reused or hand-me-down bottles may contain bisphenol-A (BPA). The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has banned the use of BPA in baby bottles due to safety concerns.
  • Glass bottles do not have BPA and are recyclable, but they can break if dropped. Some manufacturers sell plastic sleeves to prevent bottles from breaking.
  • Stainless steel bottles are sturdy and will not break, but they may be more expensive.
  • Disposable bottles have a plastic sleeve inside that you throw away after each use. The liner collapses as baby drinks, which helps prevent air bubbles. Liners save on cleanup, and are handy for traveling. But they add an extra cost, as you need a new liner for every feeding.

You can choose from several different bottle shapes and sizes:

  • Standard bottles have straight or slightly rounded sides. They are easy to clean and fill, and you can easily tell how much milk is in the bottle.
  • Angle-neck bottles are easier to hold. The milk collects at the end of the bottle. This helps prevent your baby from sucking in air. These bottles can be harder to fill and you need to hold them sideways or use a funnel.
  • Wide bottles have a wide mouth and are short and squat. They are said to be more like a mother's breast, so they may be a good option for babies who go back and forth between breast and bottle.
  • Vented bottles have a venting system inside to prevent air bubbles. They are said to help prevent colic and gas, but this is unproven. These bottles have a straw-like inner vent, so you will have more parts to keep track of, clean, and assemble.

When your baby is small, start with the smaller 4- to 5-ounce (120- to 150-milliliters) bottles. As your baby's appetite grows, you can switch to larger 8- to 9-ounce (240- to 270-milliliters) bottles.

These tips can help you safely care for and clean baby bottles and nipples:

  • When you first buy bottles and nipples, sterilize them. Place all of the parts in a pan covered with water and boil them for 5 minutes. Then wash with soap and warm water and air dry them.
  • Clean bottles right after you use them so the milk doesn't dry and become caked onto the bottle. Wash bottles and other parts with soap and warm water. Use a bottle and nipple brush to get at hard-to-reach areas. ONLY use these brushes on baby bottles and parts. Dry bottles and nipples on a drying rack on the counter. Make sure everything is completely dry before using again.
  • If bottles and nipples are labeled "dishwasher safe," you can wash and dry them in the top rack of the dishwasher.
  • Throw out cracked or torn nipples. Small pieces of the nipple can come off and cause choking.
  • Throw out cracked or chipped bottles, which can pinch or cut you or your baby.
  • Always wash your hands thoroughly before handling bottles and nipples.

American Academy of Pediatrics website. Practical bottle feeding tips. Accessed July 8, 2021.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. How to clean, sanitize, and store infant feeding items. Updated October 29, 2020. Accessed July 8, 2021.

Goyal NK. The newborn infant. In: Kliegman RM, St. Geme JW, Blum NJ, Shah SS, Tasker RC, Wilson KM, eds. Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics. 21st ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 113.

Updated by: Neil K. Kaneshiro, MD, MHA, Clinical Professor of Pediatrics, University of Washington School of Medicine, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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Best Sizes and Shapes for Feeding

We’ll help you understand the many bottle shapes and nipple sizes


Finding the right baby bottle is more trial and error than choice—for mom, anyway. Your baby will decide what she likes best. We’ll help you understand the many shapes and sizes, and you can help your little one choose by trying more than one style of baby bottle and nipple.

Browse bottles and nipples.

When selecting the best baby bottle, explore shape, material, and size

You will find baby bottles in many styles. Before you try one, or several, it helps to understand all your options.

Baby bottle shapes: standard or curved

  • Standard baby bottles (straight with no angle or curve) have been successfully used for years
  • Curved baby bottles, and those with liners, are designed to reduce the swallowing of air and to cut down on gas and fussiness
  • Baby bottles with disposable liners are easy to clean, but the liner refills can be costly
  • You’ll find a wide array of bottles and nipples available in stores. Check with your doctor if you need help finding the right one for your baby

Materials: plastic or glass baby bottles?

Glass baby bottles are sturdy but heavy and can shatter if dropped. Plastic baby bottles are lightweight and shatterproof, and many are BPA-free.

Baby bottle sizes: small for now, larger for later

Smaller bottles (4 fl oz or less) are nice when your baby is small. But as your baby grows, you’ll replace them with larger ones. Hint: When choosing a bigger bottle, make sure it will fit into your current diaper bag.

Baby bottle nipples: sizes, shapes, styles, and materials differ by design

Nipple shapes, sizes, and flow speeds need to match with your baby's sucking style, so it’s important to experiment. The size of the hole determines how quickly or slowly the milk flows. If the hole is the wrong size, your baby may feed too quickly, too slowly, or swallow too much air.

Bottle nipple sizes

  • Size-one nipples have a small hole, for babies from birth to age 6 months
  • Size-two, -three, and -four nipples have a larger hole and are great for older babies
  • Special nipples for preemies also are available

The ideal bottle nipple allows a few drops of milk to drip out as soon as you turn the bottle upside down, then the dripping should stop. If you think the milk is flowing too quickly for your baby, try a nipple with a smaller hole. If you think your baby is getting frustrated by sucking too hard, try a nipple with a larger hole.


Baby bottle nipple shapes

  • Standard nipples are tall and dome-shaped, while other nipple types mimic the shape of your breast
  • Orthodontic nipples are shaped to fit the inside of your baby's mouth—wide at the tip and base, and narrow in the middle

Baby bottle nipple materials


  • Softer
  • Can hold the odor of milk
  • May wear out more quickly


  • Sturdier
  • Easier to clean
  • Can last up to a year

When to clean and replace baby bottles and nipples

Always wash new bottles and nipples in hot, soapy water or in the dishwasher before using them. Wash them again after every feeding and check the nipples for wear. Be sure to replace smaller nipples with larger ones as your baby grows, and always replace any bottle nipple that shows signs of wear.

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How to choose a nipple and bottle for your newborn

How to choose a bottle and nipple for feeding your baby? Find out about the quality of teats, types of bottles and get help in choosing

Sooner or later, every mother is faced with the need to choose a bottle and nipple for feeding her baby, even if he is fully breastfed. By six months, almost all children get acquainted with the bottle, because new “drinks” begin to appear in their diet - for example, fruit juices, we recommend that you consult your pediatrician regarding the volume of complementary foods.

Choosing a bottle and pacifier for your baby is a responsible task, because the well-being of the baby depends on their quality and whether they are comfortable for the child. And if we are talking about a baby on mixed feeding, then the quality of the nipple depends on how successfully you can combine breastfeeding with supplementary feeding with infant formula. How to make the right choice?

It all depends on the situation: on the nature of feeding and the choice of formula, for feeding which the nipple and bottle will be used. Let's take a closer look at existing bottle and nipple models and the situations they are designed for.

Choice of bottle shape, material and size

When choosing the right baby bottle, you will find many different options: glass and plastic, with and without handles, with special inserts, slanted and straight, and even donut-shaped bottles. To make the choice easier, you need to understand why there are so many options.

Bottle shapes

Standard straight bottles have been used successfully by mothers for many years. A donut-shaped bottle may be comfortable for a child to hold on his own, but such a bottle is very difficult to wash thoroughly. A convenient option for both the baby and the mother is a straight bottle with a “waist”.

Baby bottles with inserts are designed to reduce the amount of air your baby swallows with food. This helps to reduce gas formation and calm the baby. Bottles with disposable liners are very easy and convenient to clean, but these liners can be expensive to replace.

Bottle materials

Glass bottles are easy to clean and allow a large number of sterilizations, which is a big plus. However, a glass bottle is heavier than its plastic counterpart and may break if dropped.

Plastic bottles are lighter than glass bottles, they do not break and, thanks to the material, they can have a different shape.

Bottle sizes

When your baby is still very young, it is more convenient to feed him from a small bottle. But the older the child becomes, the larger the bottle he will need. Both a small (125-150 ml) bottle and a larger bottle (250-300 ml) will be useful to you. When your baby is a little older and needs a larger bottle for thicker foods, the smaller bottle can be used for water and juices.

When choosing a bottle, pay attention to the volume scale - convex marks are much more reliable than markings applied with paint.

It is also advisable to immediately purchase brushes for washing bottles and a special detergent for washing children's dishes. In addition, you will need a thermal bag or a bottle case - so that the drink does not cool down if you have to walk for a long time, and it was convenient to take it with you.

Choice of baby pacifier

It is very important to choose the right nipple for the baby, as the nipple suitable for the child will contribute to the development of the correct bite and the formation of adequate taste habits.

Nipples differ in shape, size and material from which they are made. The best option is a nipple with a wide base, reminiscent of the shape of a mother's breast, this is especially true in cases where the baby is mixed-fed and must switch from breastfeeding to bottle-feeding - and vice versa. In this case, the sucking movements when feeding from such a nipple will be exactly the same as when breastfeeding.

Silicone stands out among the materials - it is considered the safest and most hypoallergenic material. Silicone is harder than latex and more practical to use.

In addition, when choosing a pacifier, you need to pay attention to the hole through which the baby will receive food: the flow rate will depend on the size of the hole. If the hole is the wrong size, it can lead to too fast or too slow feeding, causing the baby to experience discomfort, such as swallowing air or having difficulty trying to suck. The intensity of the flow of milk during breastfeeding depends, among other things, on the duration of feeding and the activity of the baby, so the nipple for feeding should also be chosen depending on his age and appetite, as well as the nature of the formula that your baby receives. Usually, the nipple for newborns has one hole: the diameter of the hole in the nipple is so small that the baby exerts the same force as when breastfeeding.

The hole should be such that the food does not pour out on its own, and the baby needs to make some effort to get it. Also, the size of the hole depends on the choice of mixture: for anti-reflux mixtures with thickeners, a nipple with a large hole is needed, since a regular nipple will simply become clogged with such a mixture. For mixed feeding, on the contrary, an elastic nipple with small holes is used so that the easier flow of the mixture through the nipple does not contribute to the baby's rejection of the breast.

A common problem with bottle feeding is aerophagia, in simple terms, swallowing air. It happens because during feeding through a regular nipple in the bottle there is a vacuum, and at some point the baby must come off the nipple so that air enters the bottle through its hole. When the nipple is released, the baby swallows air. Aerophagia can contribute to the occurrence of regurgitation and colic in children during the first months of life. In order to avoid this, nipples have been developed with a so-called anti-colic valve, which prevents the swallowing of air.

In addition to all of the above, when choosing a pacifier, do not forget to focus on the "tips" of your baby. The process of choosing this baby "accessory" is rather a process of weeding out options that are not suitable for your baby - be prepared for the fact that you will have to try to offer your baby several types of nipples. The child himself will “show” which model suits him best.

To find the right teat for your baby, offer him several options and observe how he eats and feels after feeding.

Age recommendations when using nipples are indicative, so carefully monitor the well-being of the baby and his behavior during feeding. The appearance of symptoms of anxiety and discomfort will be a signal for the need to choose another pacifier

How do you know that you have made the right choice of bottle and teat?

If the bottle and nipple are well matched, when the bottle is turned upside down, a few drops of liquid will fall from the nipple, and then the dripping will stop.

Armed with knowledge and listening to your baby's needs, you will be able to find the right bottle and nipple for him. There are many wonderful moments ahead of you, discoveries and travels, when the bottle and the nipple will be important. Good luck!

The material was prepared on the basis of the manual Nutrition for a healthy and sick child. Manual for doctors, ed. Tutel'yana V.A., Konya I.Ya., Kaganova B.S. Moscow, 2013. - 264 p.

Nursing nipple care | Breast care

Breastfeeding is good for you and your baby, but it can be a real challenge for the nipples. Check out our tips and tricks to help reduce the pain.

Share this information

Sioned Hilton, health visitor, neonatal nurse and lactation consultant:
A mother of three, Sioned Hilton has been supporting families with newborns and young children for over 30 years. She provides advice on breastfeeding and pumping, both in clinics and at home. In addition, Schoned writes articles for parenting magazines, attends conferences, and conducts seminars for attending physicians.

New mothers often hear: "Breastfeeding doesn't have to be painful." However, in the early days, many are faced with the opposite.

In most women during pregnancy, the nipples enlarge and become more sensitive. When a newborn baby begins to suckle, it creates a certain pressure, and this is a completely new and unfamiliar sensation for a woman (at least for a first-time mother).

Feedings can be prolonged for a long time, sometimes up to an hour, and the child may ask to be breastfed up to 13 times a day. 1 This sucking, pressure and saliva of the baby can cause sore nipples.

Remember how your lips crack in the wind and sun. The more often you lick them, the more they will dry and become inflamed. Therefore, lips require good hydration to soften, protect and speed up the healing of cracks. The same thing happens with nipples.

However, sore nipples usually don't last more than a couple of weeks and go away as your baby and your breasts get used to breastfeeding. It is important to start nipple care as early as possible to prevent the situation from worsening. Therefore, if your nipples become very inflamed, crack or bleed, contact your doctor as soon as possible. 2

Prevention is better than cure, so check out our tips.

Check baby's latch-on

Correct latch is the key to pain-free breastfeeding. When putting the baby to the breast, point the nipple towards his palate. This will allow him to grab the nipple and the part of the areola (the darker skin around the nipple) underneath. When the nipple and part of the breast is in the baby's mouth, feeding is taking place correctly. 3

For the first few days, see a lactation consultant or specialist to check for proper latch. He will be able to give you advice on how to solve problems and recommend other feeding positions that will make it less painful for you to feed your baby.

Check tongue tie

Tongue tie (ankyloglossia) occurs in 4-11% of
newborns. 4 At the same time, the strip of skin that attaches the tongue to the bottom of the mouth - the so-called frenulum - is too short. A child with a shortened frenulum will not be able to open his mouth wide enough to latch onto the breast well, and his tongue will not cover the lower gum when sucking. As a result, the baby will be nervous, and your nipples may become inflamed.

The doctor or lactation consultant must examine the baby to make this diagnosis. The problem of a shortened bridle is solved by a simple undercutting procedure. It is performed by a doctor, and is usually done without blood and does not require anesthesia. Cutting the bridle allows you to restore the normal feeding mechanism almost instantly. 5

Less common in children is a short frenulum of the upper lip. In this case, it is necessary to dissect the skin that connects the upper lip to the gum. A shortened frenum of the tongue or upper lip in a newborn is not always detected during the examination conducted immediately after birth, so if you think that this is what is causing your nipples pain, seek medical advice as soon as possible. 4

Breastfeeding Nipple Tips

  • Wash your breasts with water only when you shower or bathe. Small bumps on the areola (Montgomery's glands) secrete oil that moisturizes and protects your nipples. Soaps and shower gels can strip away this natural defense, causing dryness and irritation. 6
  • Pat the nipples gently with a soft towel or simply let them air dry. In the past, women were often advised to rub their nipples to make them stiffer, but thankfully, such advice is a thing of the past!
  • No need to wash breasts or nipples before feeding. The bacteria found on the surface of the breast actually help the baby's intestinal microflora to develop. 7
  • Fresh breast milk helps to heal cracked nipples, 8 so rub a few drops of milk into them before and after feeding.
  • Change your bra pads often if they get wet. This will reduce the risk of bacterial and fungal infections, including thrush. 6
  • It is not necessary to increase the intervals between feedings to give the nipples a "rest". For a baby to be healthy and grow well, it needs to be fed on demand. Remember, frequent feeding stimulates and maintains milk production, so keep feeding despite the pain. 9

Healthy Nipple Care Products

  • Nipple Care made from pure lanolin, a natural product derived from sheep's wool. It moisturizes and promotes healing of the nipples. This cream is safe for the baby, so it does not need to be washed off before feeding.
  • Hydrogel Pads* can be applied to sore nipples to relieve pain while feeding and help promote healing. They can even be stored in the refrigerator to enhance the soothing cooling effect.
  • Breast pads* fit inside a bra. They help prevent nipple irritation from clothing and have air holes to help nipples heal.
  • Nursing Bras** are made from breathable material such as cotton or a special fabric that dries quickly and wicks moisture away from sore nipples.
  • Nursing Pads* are special silicone pads that fit over the nipples. They have small holes through which milk flows when you are breastfeeding. The pads help to protect the skin underneath and help the baby to better latch on to the nipple by making the nipple stiffer. Do not use nursing pads for a long time. If you have problems or pain, contact your healthcare professional or lactation consultant.

When to Seek Medical Care

The soreness should go away as your nipples and baby get used to breastfeeding. It is worth repeating that the main cause of sore nipples is improper grip. If your lactation consultant has not been able to resolve your pain while feeding, see another specialist and a third if necessary.

If nipple pain persists or if you notice unusual symptoms, talk to your doctor. The appearance of white spots or flakes on the nipples may be a sign of thrush, whitish or bluish nipples may indicate a circulation disorder such as Raynaud's disease (vasospasm), and pus and redness indicate an infection. 2


1 Kent JC et al. Volume and frequency of breastfeedings and fat content of breast milk throughout the day. Pediatrics. 2006;117(3): e 387-395. — Kent J.S. et al., "Amount and frequency of breastfeeding and fat content of breast milk during the day." Pediatrix (Pediatrics). 2006;117(3):e387-95.

2 Berens P et al. Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine. ABM Clinical Protocol#26: Persistent pain with breastfeeding. Breastfeeding Medicine. 2016;11(2):46-53. - Behrens, P. et al., Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine, AVM Clinical Protocol #26: Persistence of Breastfeeding Pain. Brestfeed Med (Breastfeeding Medicine). 2016;11(2):46-53.

3 Cadwell K. Latching - On and Suckling of the Healthy Term Neonate: Breastfeeding Assessment. J Midwifery & Women's Health. 2007;52(6):638-42. — Cadwell, K., "Latching and sucking in healthy newborns: evaluation of breastfeeding. " F Midwifery Women Health. 2007;52(6):638-642.

4 Segal LM et al. Prevalence, diagnosis, and treatment of ankyloglossia: methodological review. Canadian Family Physician. 2007;53(6):1027-1033. - Segal L.M. et al., Incidence, Diagnosis, and Treatment of Ankyloglossia: A Methodological Review. Canadian Family Physic. 2007;53(6):1027-1033.

5 O'Shea JE et al. Frenotomy for tongue - tie in newborn infants. The Cochrane Library. 2017. - O'Shea J.I. et al., "Dissection of the frenulum in the newborn", The Cochrane Labrery (Cochrane Library), 2017.

6 Jacobs A et al. S3-guidelines for the treatment of inflammatory breast disease during the lactation period. Geburtshilfe und Frauenheilkunde. 2013;73(12):1202-1208. - Jacobs A. et al., "Recommendations S -3 for the treatment of inflammatory diseases of the breast during breastfeeding. Geburtskhilfe und Frauenheilkünde. milk bacterial communities and establishment and development of the infant gut microbiome JAMA pediatrics 2017;171(7):647-654 - P. S. Pannaraj et al. development of the neonatal gut microbiome." JAMA pediatric. 2017;171(7):647-654.

8 Mohammadzadeh A et al. The effect of breast milk and lanolin on sore nipples. Saudi medical journal. 2005;26(8):1231-1234. — Mohammedzade A. et al., "Effects of breast milk and lanolin on sore nipples." Saudi Medical Journal. 2005;26(8):1231-1234.

9 Kent JC et al. Principles for maintaining or increasing breast milk production. J Obstet , Gynecol , & Neonatal Nurs . 2012;41(1):114-121. - Kent J.S. et al., "Principles for Maintaining and Increasing Milk Production". J Obstet Ginecol Neoneutal Nurs. 2012;41(1):114-121.

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