Why Does the Baby Bottle Nipple Collapse? (Plus How To Fix It!)

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Bottle-feeding your baby is one of the many rites of passage for new parents as there are so many details that need to align properly to get a good feeding session. If you’ve ever had the nipple on your baby’s bottle collapse, you may be wondering why it happened and what you can do to prevent it next time.

Your baby’s bottle nipple may collapse during feeding because it is unable to keep up with how much your baby is drinking, there is an obstruction blocking the airflow, or it has been incorrectly assembled. Once you have confirmed correct assembly, pull on the nipple until the valve opens. If the problem continues, it is time for a larger nipple.

Keep reading for more information on why your baby’s bottle nipple is collapsing and specific tips for how to keep it from happening to most popular brands.

Why the nipple on your baby bottle keeps collapsing

Any parent who has bottle-fed their child has probably experienced the frustration of a collapsed nipple as it is a common problem across many popular bottle brands.

Each bottle has a venting system to allow air to flow into the bottle while your little one sucks the milk or formula out of it. Usually, this will be a small hole located near the base of the nipple. Despite the variation in designs across brands and styles, this is a necessary component in all baby bottles.

Your baby’s bottle nipple may be collapsing because:

  • he is sucking harder than the influx of air can compensate for
  • there is an obstruction blocking the airflow valve
  • the bottle has been improperly assembled without an airflow valve

The most common reason for a nipple collapse is that your baby is ready for a bigger nipple or a faster flow size. If your little one is sucking excessively hard, they may be creating a vacuum inside the nipple because the airflow valve is not designed to handle such a fast flow.

In this case, it is time to start using the next size up. If you are also breastfeeding, you may want to speak with your lactation consultant before making the switch. Generally, you should keep the bottle’s flow as slow as reasonably possible in order to prevent nipple confusion.

Another reason the nipple could be collapsing is that there is something obstructing the airflow valve. Whether it be by holding the bottle a certain way, or even something lodged in the tiny valve hole. Be sure to check before each use and if you see this still happening check to make sure you or your child aren’t holding their hand over the valve.

Additionally, be sure to check to make sure that the bottle, nipple, and cap ring are all from the same manufacturer. Using a different nipple than the cap ring could cause not only airflow issues, but cause leakage, and seals to not work properly. It is always recommended to use the same brand for every component whenever possible.

Do you need to change the nipple size?

Knowing when to change the nipple size is very important in the first steps of parenthood. If you are solely bottle feeding your child, then the tell-tale signs of when to increase the size are generally given as cues from your baby.

Regularly collapsing bottle nipples during mealtimes is a sure sign that it’s time to go up a nipple size. You may also find that your little one is longer and longer to eat, which is caused by trying to intake more volume while being restricted by the flow size and airflow.

While your baby’s specific nipple size needs may vary, here are some common size recommendations:

  • Preemie / Level 0 – 0+ months
  • Level 1 – 0+ months
  • Level 2 – 3+ months
  • Level 3 – 6+ months
  • Level 4 – 9+ months
  • Y-Cut – 9+ months

How do you fix a collapsed nipple?

The most common reasons for your bottle nipple collapsing are an obstructed venting system, the nipple becoming too small for your baby’s needs, or the components may not be assembled properly.

To fix a collapsed bottle nipple, firmly pull the nipple in the direction of the valve until you see the slit in the valve open up. Depending on the reason for the collapse, this may not solve the underlying issue.

In case this approach doesn’t work, try opening the bottle before each use, (once the milk or formula is mixed and ready to feed) and manually pushing firmly on the valve to open the slit in this way. Reviews have shown that both of these methods have a really good success rate and should correct any issues you have with the nipples collapsing.

If you’re still having trouble with the nipple collapsing, it may be time to go up a size.

Don’t see the valve at all? Chances are your bottle is assembled incorrectly – make sure that all your parts are from the same brand to ensure that the valve isn’t blocked by another piece of the bottle.

How do you keep Tommee Tippee nipples from collapsing?

Tommee Tippee bottles are popular with parents who are also breastfeeding because the nipple is designed to imitate the feel of mom’s breast and decrease the likelihood that your little one will reject mom in favor of the bottle. Unfortunately, the anti-colic design is particularly vulnerable to sticking and may stop venting properly.

The Tommee Tippee nipple can be especially prone to collapsing because the vent in the seal has closed up. It’s a good practice to locate this seal at the base of the stem and pinch it gently between your fingers to reopen each time before giving your baby his bottle.

This issue is common enough that the Tommee Tippee website even includes this recommendation as part of its Frequently Asked Questions. If you’re having trouble locating the airflow seal, they have also included a helpful image.

How do you keep Avent nipples from collapsing?

The valve on the Avent nipples is located below the molded number that indicates the size flow of the nipple. For example, if the nipple is a newborn nipple, it will display an “N” and just below that would be the valve.

Once you have found the valve, grab firmly below it and pull upwards until you see the slit in the valve opening. Once you have observed this you are good to go and can begin feeding.

You should also routinely clean and sterilize the components of these bottles due to the possibility of debris being caught within the valve and blocking the airflow.

How do you keep Nuk nipples from collapsing?

Similar to both the Tommee Tippee and Avent nipples, the venting system on Nuk nipples is a vent located at the base of the nipple, close to the ring cap.

If your Nuk nipple is collapsing, check all components of the bottle to ensure they are clean and free of debris.

If good, check to make sure that all components are the same Nuk brand as using different brand pieces often leads to venting issues, leakage, etc.

If this did not solve the issue, the last step would be to grab firmly on the nipple, situating your fingers close to the valve, and pull firmly until you see the valve open up.

How do you keep Dr. Brown nipples from collapsing?

The venting system for the Dr. Brown nipples is unique compared to most other brands on the market.

Instead of a small valve at the base of the nipple, this brand hosts an internal system that consists of a wide neck straw as well as a silicone cover that sits just inside the ring cap of the top. This venting system prevents the air from mixing with the liquid inside of the bottle, allowing the air to maintain pressure without putting unwanted air into your baby’s belly.

Check the components of the bottle and venting system to ensure that there are no blockages within the nipple, vent cap, and straw. Even the smallest amount of built-up formula or milk could prevent the proper airflow.

If this isn’t the issue, then check to make sure you have correctly put together the venting system. Check to see if the top of the bottle is too tight and loosen it some to relieve the pressure inside of the bottle.

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