Are you bottle-feeding your baby and worried that he or she is drinking too quickly? You may be wondering if the speed of drinking is normal or if you should try to slow things down a bit! After all, you don’t want her choking or bringing it all up five minutes later.
The wrong nipple size or incorrect feeding position could make your baby drink her bottle quickly. When your baby drinks a bottle too fast, they’ll battle to swallow properly, resulting in choking, vomiting, or getting gas. Getting the right feeding pace is healthier for your baby.
- Your baby could be drinking her bottle too fast because of the wrong nipple size, lying down on her back, or being extra hungry.
- The normal amount of time it takes for your baby to drink from a bottle depends on their age and growth rate.
- If your baby drinks too fast she could battle unpleasant conditions such as colic, reflux, choking, or vomiting.
- Make sure you know the first aid steps to help a choking baby who has drunk her milk too fast.
- Using the right nipple size and feeding position plus considering paced bottle feeding or giving your baby feeding breaks are all tips to slowing down a feed.
Why is my baby drinking the bottle fast?
Firstly, it’s important to know what is the right speed for your baby when she’s bottle feeding. Newborns normally take anything between 20 to 40 minutes to finish a bottle while older babies can take between 15 to 20 minutes.
If your baby is hitting the bottle and gulping down their bottle in five minutes, you need to slow it down. There could be a number of reasons why your baby is drinking the bottle too fast including:
- Nipple flow is too fast: If this is causing your baby to drink too fast, switch to a slower flow teat.
- Incorrect feeding position: Lying down flat while drinking from the bottle causes milk to flow faster into your baby’s mouth. Positioning your baby in a semi-upright posture helps to slow down the milk flow from the bottle.
- Your baby is hungry: Feeding your baby on demand could help her slow down when drinking from her bottle.
Watching your baby while they drink will help you gauge if they’re uncomfortable while drinking. Other signs such as choking or gagging, vomiting, and bloated stomach could all be an indication your little one is drinking her milk too quickly.
Is it normal for babies to drink bottles fast?
Every baby is unique and this applies to their feeding style as well! There was a time when my daugher preferred bottle to breastfeeding and she was drinking the bottle too quickly which resulted in some problems. Finding the right bottle flow rate ensured that our baby was comfortable while matching her feeding pace.
How long would it usually take for a baby to finish a 4oz bottle?
A newborn would take anything between 20 to 40 minutes to finish a 4oz bottle while a three to six months old baby could take anywhere between 15 and 30 minutes. Babies older than six months can take between 15 to 20 minutes to finish a 4oz bottle.
What can happen if the baby drinks a bottle too fast?
There are a number of reasons why your baby could be vomiting after a feed. Newborns are still developing their sphincter muscle between the esophagus and stomach which could make them spit up or drool after feeding.
However, if your baby is projectile or forcefully vomiting, it could be because of gastrointestinal problems or overfeeding which often happens when they drink too fast. Vomiting also happens if the nipple flow is too fast for your baby’s natural feeding pace.
Indigestion or acid reflux is a common side effect of drinking the bottle quickly. Babies normally outgrow infant reflux as they get older but while they have it, the condition can be unpleasant. A fast-flow nipple, incorrect feeding position, or an extra-hungry baby could all be reasons why your baby is getting indigestion after drinking milk too quickly.
After a diagnosis of infant reflux, your doctor may recommend some adjustments to your baby’s feeding pace to help manage the condition.
If your baby is writhing, grimacing, or crying after being bottle-fed, she could be experiencing stomach cramps. A number of causes could be the reason your little one is battling tummy cramps such as:
- Lactose intolerance
- Acid reflux
- Intestinal blockages
Drinking a bottle too fast often means swallowing too much air, the main culprit for unpleasant conditions such as colic, infant gas, and reflux. Managing your baby’s drinking pace will help to keep stomach cramps at bay.
If your baby is gagging during a bottle feed, she could be battling with the flow of milk into her mouth. Immature swallowing reflexes in younger babies make it difficult for your baby to cope with a fast intake of milk. Swallowing noisily or trying to release the nipple from her mouth are signs your little one is choking.
Drinking from the bottle too fast will also make your baby cough. This is a natural response when not able to swallow too much milk going into her mouth at one time. Learning to suckle with ease takes time and practice. Understanding your baby’s feeding style will ensure she drinks at her own pace without resorting to coughing fits.
What to do if your baby starts choking after drinking too fast
It’s scary when your baby starts to choke after drinking her bottle too fast. Should this happen, remove the nipple from her mouth immediately and sit her upright. This will help clear her airways.
If this doesn’t stop your baby from retching, performing first aid may be necessary. Use the following steps to help your baby who is choking
- Place your baby on her stomach on your thigh, with her head lower than her chest and bottom.
- Tilt her head up and back and give five thrusts with the heel of your hand on her back,
- Turn her over gently so she’s facing upwards and give her five chest thrusts with two fingers pressed down the middle below the nipples.
If the blockage doesn’t clear using these methods, get medical attention immediately. This short video demonstrates how to perform first aid on your choking baby.
How to get your baby to drink milk slower
1. Use the right nipple size
Baby bottle nipples come in different sizes which control the rate of milk flow while your baby is feeding:
- Slow flow (Level 0 – 1): For babies from newborn to three months old.
- Medium flow (Level 2): Suitable for babies between three to six months old.
- Fast flow (Level 3 – 4): Best for older babies from six to 12 months old.
While using your baby’s age will help you gauge when to move up a nipple size, if you notice your little one is battling with a faster flow, stick with a slower flow teat. Getting to know your baby’s feeding style will help you decide when to switch nipple sizes.
2. Feed in a semi-upright position
Lying your baby down flat on their back while bottle feeding causes the milk to flow too quickly into your little one’s mouth. Sitting or holding your baby in a semi-upright position will reduce the flow of milk from the bottle while making it easier for your baby to swallow during feeding.
Using the correct bottle feeding position ensures your baby won’t choke or cough because of milk flowing too quickly into her mouth.
3. Introduce short feeding breaks
If your baby is still drinking her milk too quickly, introducing short feeding breaks will prevent her from guzzling a whole bottle in five minutes! Short breaks during a nursing session allow your little one to digest her milk, preventing nasty symptoms associated with gas buildup, colic, or acid reflux.
You can help your baby to rest during feeding by leaving the nipple in your little one’s mouth but tipping the bottle down slightly so the milk doesn’t reach the teat. When your baby starts to suck again, return the bottle to the normal feeding position.
4. Try paced bottle feeding
Paced bottle feeding allows your baby to feed on demand which slows down the flow rate of milk. This feeding style gives your baby more control over her feeding pace, slowing down the flow of milk into the bottle’s nipple and into her mouth. Paced bottle feeding mimics breastfeeding, aiming to slow down the baby’s drinking pace.
Paced bottle feeding can help reduce colic, indigestion, gagging, and vomiting as your baby learns to drink slowly and at her pace.
Using my tips for preventing your baby from drinking too quickly will save your baby from experiencing discomfort during or after feeding. One last tip! Some of the bottles specifically designed for reflux come with nipples specially engineered to slow down feeding so make sure you get the right brand for your baby’s feeding needs.