Best Bottles for Baby with Low Muscle Tone [incl. Guide]

Balint Horvath, PhD

Writer, parent, and veteran of baby feeding battles.

Updated:

In my eyes the best bottle for a baby with low muscle tone is Pigeon Cleft Palate Nurser.

Has your baby recently been diagnosed with low muscle tone, or Hypotonia as it is more commonly referred to? This can be frustrating for everyone involved as it means your little one may struggle to suckle or even hold their bottle on their own. Here I show a list of baby bottles for such babies and also provide a buying guide.

My Top Picks

The best bottles for babies with low muscle tone

To understand which bottle is better for your little one’s low muscle tone, here’s a comparative table highlighting the key specifications. 

Ease of UseFlow RateSoft Nipples 
Dr. BrownEasy to use for most babiesVariety flow rates available in their speciality feeding program100% silicone makes them super soft
Avent PhilipsFat design can be difficult to adjust toDifferent flow ratesSoft and flexible, with minimal nipple collapse
Playtex Drop-Ins Nurser BottlesThinner design makes it easier to useLiners reduce air and flow rateSoft silicone nipple
Breastflow BottlesEasy to useVarious options availableSofter outer part of the nipple encourages latching
PigeonThinner, lightweight design makes it easy to useVarious options availableThin-walled nipples aids weak sucking
NUK BottlesEasy to useVarious options availableLatex nipples are softer than silicone options

Best Overall – Pigeon

Pigeon Baby Cleft Palate Bottle with 2 Nipples, 8.11 Oz, Please Use It Under The Guidance of a Pediatrician

When it comes to feeding babies with low muscle tone, a definite winner is the bottle from Pigeon. The Pigeon Cleft Palate Nurser has been specifically designed for babies with weaker sucking power. The nursing bottle from Pigeon has been a firm favorite with parents since 1985. A silicone rubber nipple is thin-walled enough for babies with low muscle tone to latch onto. 

Best Efficiency – Dr. Brown

Dr. Brown's Options Narrow Feeding Set, Clear - Packaging may vary

Many parents have found success with the Dr. Brown Infant-Paced Feeding Valve which has a special valve that is typically used for babies with cleft palates or other issues that make sucking difficult. Essentially, the valve works by creating better flow control. Parents who recommended Dr. Brown bottles advise parents to check a few different nipple flows to get the best option for their little ones. 

Best Bottle for Down Syndrome – Avent Philips

Philips AVENT BPA Free Classic Bottle Screw Rings, 4-Pack

The Philips Avent BPA Free Classic Bottle is also regarded to be a great choice for babies with low muscle tone. Many parents of babies with Down Syndrome label this bottle as a firm favorite because of its excellent flow rate. Some babies may find the short, fat design more difficult to hold than the average tall and skinny options. 

Best Air Flow Reduction – Playtex Drop-Ins Nurser Bottles

Playtex Baby Nurser Bottle with Pre-Sterilized Disposable Drop-Ins Liners, Closer to Breastfeeding, 8 Ounce Bottles, 3 Count

The secret to the Playtex Drop-ins Nurser Bottles comes from the small “drop-in” bottle liners. These liners are designed to keep as much air out of the bottle as possible, which makes sucking much easier for babies with Hypotonia.

Best Latching – Breastflow Bottles

Lansinoh Momma Breastmilk Feeding Bottle with NaturalWave Slow Flow Nipple, 5 Ounces

Breastflow bottles such as the Lansinoh Momma Breastmilk feeding bottle also work well because they’re designed to mimic moms’ breasts. This in turn creates a more natural flow, making it easier for babies to latch on and suckle, even with low muscle tone. 

NUK Bottles – worth mentioning

Parents who have had success with the NUK bottles claim it has more to do with the nipple than the bottle. With a nipple that’s flatter in the middle, the flow rate is slowed down enough to make feeding easy enough. These parents also recommend opting for latex nipples because they’re softer than the silicone ones. 

Features a bottle must have for a baby with low muscle tone

Since a baby suffering from low muscle tone will struggle to bend their elbows, this will affect their ability to hold a bottle correctly. If they’re struggling to suckle from the nipple, feeding time can become quite difficult. 

That said, if your baby has been diagnosed with Hypotonia or any other condition that involves low muscle tone, you’ll need to look for bottles with special features. I’ve compiled a list of the top features to look for when you’re shortlisting bottle options:

  • Lightweight: Bottles should be lightweight, even when filled with milk. 
  • Easy to hold: Choose a bottle that your baby seems to be able to hold with as little struggle as possible. 
  • Smaller size: Rather opt for smaller bottles, and therefore require less muscle tone to grip. 
  • The flow rate of the nipple: You may have to opt for a slower flow rate than is expected for your little one’s age. Keep in mind, they are struggling to suckle, so a faster flow rate will increase the risk of choking. 
  • Softer nipples work best: Many parents recommend using a softer nipple as the baby isn’t always able to clamp down on the nipple to suck milk out.

What is low muscle tone in babies?

When a baby has low muscle tone, it’s often a symptom of Hypotonia. Typically this is a nerve or muscular condition that’s detected at birth or early infancy. Commonly referred to as “floppy muscle syndrome”, a baby with this condition will appear limp at birth and will be unable to keep their knees and elbows bent. 

Hypotonia can be a symptom of other underlying medical conditions such as:

Furthermore, hypotonia could also be related to a few of these medical conditions:

What causes low muscle tone in babies?

In many cases, low muscle tone is caused by problems stemming from one of the following scenarios:

  • Brain damage or related problems with how the baby’s brain develops during foetal development. 
  • Muscular disorders.
  • Conditions that target the central nervous system responsible for communicating to different muscles. 
  • Lack of oxygen before or during childbirth.
  • Genetic disorders.

What happens when your baby has low muscle tone

When your little one suffers from Hypotonia or a milder version of low muscle tone, they will struggle to do some of the things that other babies find quite easy. The most significant are highlighted below. 

Difficulty holding a bottle

A baby with low muscle tone won’t have developed the muscular skills needed to grab and even hold a bottle. You will have to hold the bottle, even as they grow older. 

May struggle to suckle properly

Decreased muscle tone impacts a baby’s ability to suckle, chew or even swallow both liquids and solid foods. In some instances, the baby may not be able to hold their head up without assistance, increasing the risk of choking.

The baby may be less active 

Since a baby with Hypotonia has very little muscle tone, a lot more effort is needed to get them moving around. Unlike other babies in their age group, they won’t roll over, sit up or even crawl. 

Fail to develop muscle strength

With low muscle tone, your baby won’t develop the muscle strength needed to generate the force needed to get up or move around. 

Here’s a short clip to highlight a few signs of low muscle tone in babies. 

Wrap-up

Finding the right bottle for your baby with low muscle tone can be challenging. By starting with the bottles recommended in this post, you should easily be able to find an option that your baby can use without struggling too much!  I recommend that you start first with the best overall, whichi is Pigeon Cleft Palate Nurser.

An article you may find informative when shortlisting bottle options is baby cries and squirms during bottle feeding. Similarly, my article about babies pushing bottles out will also be helpful for babies struggling with conventional bottles.

Last update on 2024-03-30 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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Author

I’m Balint, founder of this site and a father (and dad) to a baby-turned toddler. I found the world of babies so fascinating that I started a blog dedicated only to that topic. By the way, I studied physics, engineering (PhD, MSc), and therefore I do a thorough research when I write about something. Since it’s a blog, of course I also write about my personal experiences.

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