Milk Flow Rates From Bottle Nipples: What We Know and Why It Matters

Written By: Britt Frisk Pados


Feeding difficulties are common in infants hospitalized in the NICU and can be a challenge to manage. The purpose of this article is to explain how and why the flow rate from the bottle nipple affects physiologic stability in infants and to describe the current evidence available on the flow rates of nipples used in the hospital and after discharge. Study results have indicated that flow rate varies widely among different types of nipples. Within the same type of nipple, there can be significant variability in flow from one nipple to another. Other factors, such as type of infant formula and thickening, also affect flow. Altering the flow rate of the bottle nipple is a relatively simple intervention that may support safe oral feeding.

Pados B. Milk flow rates from bottle nipples: What we know and why it matters. Nursing for Women’s Health. 2021; 25(3):229-235.