When to Switch Nipple Flow: Knowing Your Baby’s Hunger Signs

As new parents, we often wonder whether our babies are getting enough milk, whether the milk is consistent, and if it’s the right amount. One of the most important factors to keep in mind while a baby is breastfeeding is her hunger signs. Hunger signs can indicate if your baby is still hungry or full. Some babies may not adjust well to an existing nipple flow, whereas others may not latch onto the nipple properly. Hence, switching your baby’s nipple flow can be crucial to ensure a healthy feeding experience.

The Common Signs That Your Baby Needs A Faster Flow

Babies grow quickly, and hence, their needs and feeding patterns change from month to month. As your baby grows, they will develop the necessary muscle strength to suckle stronger and faster. Here are the most common effects that showcase the need for a faster nipple flow:

Longer Breast Feeding Sessions

When it feels as if feeding sessions take too long and your baby is not getting enough milk, it could be time to switch to a faster nipple flow. Latching-on and firmly suctioning milk may become harder, which can lead to longer feeding sessions.

Baby Becomes Frustrated

Your baby may become frustrated if the bottle nipple’s flow is too slow. This is because the amount of suction will not provide enough milk to satisfy them, making it harder to maintain a firm seal. Look out for signs of agitation, such as crying or back arching, to prevent them from feeling frustrated.

Baby Can’t Keep Up

It becomes quite tiring for a baby to suckle continuously on a slow nipple, especially during more extended sessions. Babies who seem to be struggling to consume milk due to being tired, have a weak suction, or appear to be unable to keep up; You may need to switch to a faster nipple flow.

Baby Starts Biting and Chewing The Nipple

Babies use their mouth to form a vacuum seal around the nipple to ensure that suctioning milk is sufficient. When the flow is too slow, a baby may try to speed up the process by biting or chewing on the nipple—instead of sucking or suctioning.

The Signs That Your Baby Cannot Handle A Faster Flow

Some parents may think that a faster flow may be best for their baby, which can, in some cases, proof to be true. However, there are some signs to watch out for that indicate that the nipple flow is too fast for your little one, which include:

Coughing And Choking On Milk

Coughing or choking on milk while feeding can be a sign that the nipple flow is too high for your baby’s current abilities. These symptoms typically begin with hiccups while they’re feeding, which can then develop into coughing, choking, or gasping.

Refusing The Bottle Or Breast

If your baby is refusing the bottle or breast differently, it could mean that the sucking is too swift. This is usually the case with babies who are more comfortable with a slower flow, and the adjustment can cause some resistance.

Vomiting After Feeding Sessions

If your baby is vomiting frequently following feeding sessions, this can indicate that the nipple flow is too heavy for them to handle. As they suckle, more milk engages in their mouth that they can’t manage to swallow, leading to overflow or vomiting.

Gas And Colic

Babies who consume milk that is too fast can experience gas, bloating, or colic-like symptoms, making the transition even harder for Moms. To help prevent this discomfort, try to find ways to soothe their stomach, reduce the flow, or re-swaddle them after feeding.

When To Switch Your Baby’s Nipple Flow

Several factors contribute to when a baby should switch to a faster nipple flow, including:

Baby Age And Size

As babies grow and develop, their muscles’ strength and coordination improve, allowing them to suckle milk more effectively. Therefore, their age and size are often an indicator of when to transition to a faster flow.

Feeding Time

The feeding time is another significant factor in deciding when to switch to the next level nipple. Shorter feeding periods could mean that a faster nipple flow is needed, while longer repetitions could mean the current nipple flow is excellent.

Feeding Preferences

Some babies may prefer a specific feeding style or nipple preference, while others may easily adjust. Consider your baby’s feeding preferences to ensure the transition is as seamless as possible.

How To Know If The Nipple Flow Is Too Slow Or Fast

If your baby is displaying some of the symptoms mentioned above, it may be time to consider switching to a new nipple flow. However, this is not always the case, and it can be challenging to understand what flow should be suitable for your baby’s needs. Again, factors such as age, size, and feeding time should be considered. Here are some typical signs to check for faster or slower nipple flows:

Check The Nipple Hole Size

Most nipple packaging comes with a recommended age range for the correct flow rate that matches the appropriate hole size for the nipple. As they’ve just begun to suckle and mildly suction milk, the hole should be smaller. As they begin to suction firmer or provide wider suction, the hole size should increase.

Follow Your Baby’s Stomach Capacity

The baby’s stomach capacity differs based on her age, weight, and size, which can have an impact on her hanger levels. Consider whether she is currently showing signs of being too full, too hungry, or agitated to help determine if it’s worthwhile to switch to a faster or slower nipple flow.

Observe Your Baby’s Sucking Reflexes

The changes in the baby’s sucking reflexes can be an indicator of their readiness to adopt a new level nipple. If your baby is struggling to suckle milk consistently, she may not be ready for a more massive flow rate. Conversely, if she is showing signs of frustration with the existing nipple, consider switching to a faster level.


As parents, we often look for signs from our babies to understand their needs and ensure they’re as comfortable as possible. Observing their hunger signs to know when to switch nipple flow is crucial to providing the best feeding experience for mom and baby. Understanding the signs that indicate when it’s time to increase or decrease the nipple flow rate is essential.


  • How can I tell if my baby needs a faster nipple flow?
    If your baby requires longer feeding sessions, seems agitated or frustrated while feeding, or is biting and chewing on the nipple, these could be indicators that the nipple flow is too sluggish.
  • How do I know if my baby can’t handle a faster flow?
    If your baby is coughing or choking on milk, refusing the bottle or breast, vomiting after feeding, or developing gas or colic symptoms, then the nipple flow is too fast for your baby to handle.
  • When should I switch to a faster nipple flow?
    Several factors contribute to when to switch to a faster nipple flow, including your baby’s age and size, feeding time, and feeding preferences.
  • How do I ensure that the nipple flow is suitable for my baby?
    Check the nipple’s hole size to match your baby’s suction needs, assess your baby’s stomach capacity, and observe her sucking reflexes to decide which nipple flow rate is best.


  • “How to Know When to Move Up a Nipple Flow Level | Mom Life.” USA Today, Gannett Satellite Information Network, 30 Nov. 2018, http://mom.me/baby/26639-how-know-when-move-nipple-flow-level/.
  • Nwachuku, Alessia. Overview of Normal Infant Development – – American Family Physician. https://www.aafp.org/afp/2006/0715/p223.html. Accessed 17 Feb. 2022.
  • “When to Move Up A Nipple Flow: New Stress-Free Method to Know – A Side of Crunchy.” A Side of Crunchy, 9 Feb. 2020, http://asideofcrunchy.com/move-up-nipple-flow/.

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